Monday 24 October 2016

Tired and hoarse but fans ready to party... again

Fans celebrate late into the night after Robbie Brady sent Ireland through to the knock-out stages (SPORTSFILE)
Fans celebrate late into the night after Robbie Brady sent Ireland through to the knock-out stages (SPORTSFILE)

They are tired, hoarse and looking worse for wear, but there is no stopping the Green Army as they say goodbye to Lille for the march down south.

With Wednesday night's street party - following our historic victory over Italy - continuing into yesterday, excitement levels showed no sign of abating as thousands of Irish get ready to descend on Lyon.

After sacrificing sleep for night-long celebrations, thousands of Irish boarded last night's flight home from Lille to Dublin, while thousands more got trains out of the city.


Most had stayed up all night as delirious fans poured onto the streets of Lille and kept the party going - despite the bars having closed before the game kicked off.

Among those looking forward to Sunday's clash with France were four fans who celebrated with Robbie Brady and his family after the final whistle.

They described Ireland's win against Italy as the best night of their lives.

James McKenna Byrne said he is having the time of his life.

"I have never seen so many grown men cry," he said.

"My parents talk about Italia '90 and the penalty shootout but this is our Italia 90. It is this generation's stand-out moment."

Following a night of street drinking, singing and general merriment, Lille looked a very different place last night as the mass exodus of Irish fans began.

While some bleary-eyed Irish fans remained in the French city, for most the latest 700km leg of their incredible 3,200km trek both to and around France for Euro 16 was well underway.

An estimated 50,000 are expected to make the pilgrimage.

It involves a 700km transfer from northern France to Lyon - the second longest trek of the Euro 16 odyssey in France after the mammoth Bordeaux-Lille move at 856km.

"It's an expensive enough place, Lyon," warned Mark Dolan from Lucan.

"I'm lucky in that I don't have to be back in work until Monday," he said.

"The problem now is money because I blew my entire budget last Tuesday. Lyon is going to make a big hole in my savings."

With tickets at a premium because of France's involvement, Irish fans are split on heading home broke or taking a gamble and travelling to Lyon.

Ernie Murphy from Ennis in Clare was heading home with three of his sons, Emmet, Eoin and Darragh, after savouring the group games.

But his fourth son, Cillian, is heading to Lyon where he hopes to link up with friends who have a camper van.

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