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Tuesday 6 December 2016

No Regrets as fans salute heroes

C'est la vie for optimistic Irish as party continues despite what might have been against the Swedes

Laura Carroll from Navan enjoying the Euros 2016 in the fanzone
Laura Carroll from Navan enjoying the Euros 2016 in the fanzone
Rachel Lynch, Sinead Croft and Danielle McNamee from Dublin enjoying the Ireland v Sweden match in the Euro's 2016 fanzone in Paris.
Caroline Dunne, Christine Doyle, Ciara O'Connor from Wicklow, Ciara McGuinness from Monaghan and Angie Fenton from Dublin enjoying the Ireland v Sweden match in the Euro's 2016 in Paris.
Debra Doherty from Swords, Vibianne Lee from Malahide, Aoife O'Reilly from Swords Claire Collins from Donabate in Dublin enjoying the Ireland v Sweden match in the Euro's 2016 in Paris
Sinead Marshall from Dublin with her fiancee David Warde from Dublin at the Euros 2016 in Paris
Gerry Hallinan and his son Gerard (9) from Kildare enjoying the Ireland v Sweden match in the Euro's 2016 in Paris
Claudine Keane with her son Robbie Keane Junior prior to the UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match between Republic of Ireland and Sweden at Stade de France in Saint Denis, Paris, France.

C'est la vie. At the end of the day, Irish football fans had to be content with a draw when at one stage all three points seemed within our grasp.

Paris was still a riot of colour and happy fans last night after a one-all draw against the Swedes.

The green army in the 80,000 Stade de France threw everything behind the boys in green. If the competition was judged on supporters' enthusiasm and energy levels, Ireland would have had the championships wrapped up last night.

Kevin Donagher from Milltown, Co Dublin cycled to the match after setting out from his home last week. He was reasonably happy with a fair result.

Hungover

"I'm not cycling home, I'll be too wrecked and hungover for that," he added. "I only cycled over for a bit of craic myself. It was tough but we had a good night here. It was well worth it."

Getting to the stadium was not easy for anyone.

A French rail strike meant there was no direct train from the city centre to the stadium in St Denis in the city limits.

Fans wandered lost around one of the numerous stops along the way, not knowing where to go until helpful locals stepped in and pointed them in the right direction.

"Will someone tell my mother I'm okay," joked Sean Mulligan, a DCU business studies student from Naas who flew in last Thursday.

The Swedes arrived much earlier than the Irish fans who ignored police warnings to get to the ground in plenty of time.

"I was busy making sure a local watering hole was well served by the Credit Union loan," said one late arrival who asked to remain anonymous. He was supposed to be buying books for college.

Always resourceful, Irish fans managed to secure precious match passes for the Swedish section and infiltrated large areas of the yellow clad stands.

The FAI's official allocation was 25,000 but at least double that inside were wearing green.

"We definitely outnumbered them," said Meg Blyth from Cork.

"It was an unbelievable atmosphere. Just amazing. Pity we did not win but onwards and upwards now."

Irish voices were so dominant it was hard to tell if we were at an All-Ireland hurling final or one of the biggest sporting occasions in the world.

Golfer Padraig Harrington appeared on the big screen to encourage travelling masses to "stand up for the boys in green". They did that and then some.

Amhrán na bhFiann was belted out with gusto. If it didn't get the players on the pitch fired up, nothing would.

Four Irish goal chances went a begging in the first half thanks to good goalkeeping, a crossbar, an overhit shot or in John O'Shea's case, a complete miss.

Blow

Frustration, but Wes Hoolahan soon had us in raptures. Then, the body (or head) blow of a Ciaran Clarke own goal and a point each. Spoils shared between Celts and Nordics.

However, the mood among the fans was never in question.

"It may have finished all square on the pitch," said Conor McCarthy from Longford, "but we showed them how to support a team."

"We definitely beat the Swedes off the pitch but maybe they haven't drank as much as some of us."

"You guys are crazy," said Sanna Pettersson from Stockholm.

"All the Irish are definitely beating us off of the pitch," she said listening to the singing afterwards.

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