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Saturday 3 December 2016

Trouble? What trouble as ghosts of '95 riot laid to rest on quiet day

Republic of Ireland supporters Shane McCormack, centre, with his two sons John, left, age 12, and John, age 11, from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, on their way to the game.
Republic of Ireland supporters Shane McCormack, centre, with his two sons John, left, age 12, and John, age 11, from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, on their way to the game.
Irish Fans, Maeve Malone, Galway, Dylan Sheehan, Cork and Aoife Quinn, Cork pictured at Lansdowne Rd yesterday.
Dillon Ojo and Irish Fan, Sarah Lessarb pictured at Lansdowne Rd yesterday.
Florbela Costa, going to the international Friendly Republic of Ireland vs England at Aviva Stadium today
Orla McEntaggart, Niamh Grace & Emer McEntaggart, going to the international Friendly Republic of Ireland vs England at Aviva Stadium
Orla McEntaggart, Niamh Grace & Emer McEntaggart, going to the international Friendly Republic of Ireland vs England at Aviva Stadium
English fans Rory Aslin age 8 with his sister Robyn from England now living in Dublin, going to the international Friendly Republic of Ireland vs England at Aviva Stadium today
Irish football fans ahead of the international friendly match between the Republic of Ireland vs England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Republic of Ireland supporters Gareth Crawley with his 11 month old son Kai, from Dundalk, Co. Louth, on their way to the game. Three International Friendly, Republic of Ireland v England
Republic of Ireland supporters Keith Keavey and his son Dáire, age 6, from Lucan, Co. Dublin, on their way to the game.
Fan Ann Costano from the San Diago pictured arriving to the Avia stadium in Dublin for the international friendly between Ireland and England

What was all the fuss about?

Irish and English soccer fans walked hand in hand along the streets of Dublin yesterday in a stark contrast to what was witnessed 20 years ago.

Over 400 gardai and 100 members of the Public Order Unit had been dispatched along some of capital's busiest streets in anticipation of potential trouble ahead of the friendly.

Members of the riot squad patrolled Temple Bar from Saturday morning and throughout the weekend, in what was described as "a matter of precaution", with some still fearful hoolganism could rear its ugly head. In the end, the game resulted in an extremely dull but enjoyable occasion. Fans drank and sang together before, during and after the game.

ANIMOSITY

"There was a lot said before the game about English fans creating trouble, and that there was potential animosity amongst both sets of fans, but that wasn't the case at all," said Robert Malone, from Rathfarnham.

"The game wasn't what I thought it would be, it was fairly sub-standard actually, but overall it was a great day," he added.

Also amongst the fans were Dillon Oje and Sarah Lessarb, from England and Ireland respectively, who proudly wore their colours side by side.

"The atmosphere was great, we really enjoyed it. It's my first time going to a football game in Ireland, and the fans are great," Mr Oje said.

"It's been fantastic, given that we were playing against each other today, a draw was a fair result, so we're both pleased," Ms Lessarb joked.

Former Irish manager and 1966 World Cup winner with England, Jack Charlton, was met with a standing ovation when introduced to the stadium shortly before 1pm.

The only negative on what was otherwise a peaceful occasion occurred in the stadium itself just before kick off. As God Save the Queen rang out, it was met with jeers, albeit by a very small minority, of Irish supporters. England's Raheem Sterling was also the subjected to several jeers throughout the contest, but this was more than likely to do with the recent debate surrounding his Liverpool future, rather than anything else. Throughout the game, the atmosphere was positive between both sets of supporters.

English fans aimed their chants at the recent revelations regarding the FAI's €5m settlement with Fifa.

Repeated singing that Fifa boss Sepp Blatter "paid for your ground" was even met with applause from certain sections of the home crowd.

"It was an unbelievably boring game, but at least we got the full 90 minutes this time" joked David Howard from Liverpool.

OPPOSITE

"I was there 20 years ago, not at the stadium itself but in Dublin, and I remember seeing what was happening in Lansdowne Road on the television. It was the complete opposite this time.

"The fans were having a laugh with one another, there was no trouble at all, it's great to see how far we've come in the last 20 years," he added.

Marlena Kehoe and Kevin Grehan sported Irish and English colours respectively.

"It's been a really good day, there's been no conflict at all. When you compare it to 1995, the atmosphere is completely different. There's no tension, no trouble, the fans are getting on and having a good time, the way it should be," Mr Grehan said.

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