Wednesday 26 October 2016

It wasn't pretty, but a vital win keeps journey to World Cup alive

Republic of Ireland supporters Ella Branagan, age 5, with her brother Bobby, from Perrystown, Co Dublin
Republic of Ireland supporters Ella Branagan, age 5, with her brother Bobby, from Perrystown, Co Dublin

It's been a week of sporting success for Dubliners, and last night's result at the Aviva has kept sports fans in the capital in good spirits.

As the Boys in Blue's winning of the Sam Maguire for a second year in a row caused a stir, the heroes of Euro 2016 were not exactly at the front of our minds.

But last night's game against Georgia meant it was all about the Boys in Green as they looked to secure three points in their second qualifier for Russia 2018.

Man-of-the-match Seamus Coleman's goal in the 57th minute was enough to ensure a vital win on home turf.

Robbie Brady, who stole the heart of the nation with his crucial goal against Italy during the Euros, was stretchered off the pitch wearing a neckbrace and an oxygen mask.


The Baldoyle man was said to be recovering well and conscious in the dressing room last night, according to the FAI, who thanked fans for their support.

For many in the Aviva, Ireland's ropey first half - nor the fact that Georgia are hardly in the same league as France, Italy or Belgium - didn't matter as the team clinched victory.

The Green Army are hell-bent on making the new Lansdowne Road a fortress - something like the old Lansdowne Road, in fact. The FAI promoted fans' plans to do just that with 160 new flags purchased by joint supporters' groups, which went right across the 'singing section' of the South Stand.

Noel Whelan (36), from Ringsend, was doing his bit as an uncle - taking his niece Ellie (6) to the game. Both were excited about a new season at the Aviva Stadium.

"We're all feeling very positive," he said. "They did well at the Euros - when you look at the group going into it, it really was the 'group of death'.

"Hopefully, we can bring that into this campaign. I think by the end it'll be between us and Wales to qualify," he added. Meanwhile, it was grandfather duties for Paschal Byrne from East Wall, who took his grandchildren Michael Stokes (11), Conor Stokes (16) and Darren Fitzgerald (9).

"The boys wanted to come so I said I'll treat them," Paschal said. "I had to fork out, but I don't mind - they're great kids."

He's expecting Ireland to progress and it'll be down to one man, he believes.

"We'll do well. Roy Keane is the best, he's brilliant - he'll do it for us," he added

Jim Finnerty (65), from the Ballybrack Seagulls supporters' group, doesn't have much time to reflect on last night's result, however.

"I'm over to Moldova at the weekend - there's 18 of us going," he said.

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