herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

'We can go all the way', say record-setting Irish fans in Wembley party

Ireland supporters, from left, Aoife Gath, Claire Regan, and Fenela St John, from Athboy, Co. Meath, ahead of the game
Ireland supporters, from left, Aoife Gath, Claire Regan, and Fenela St John, from Athboy, Co. Meath, ahead of the game
Ireland supporter Stephen Goold, from Carrigaline, Co. Cork, ahead of the game

Some Dublin GAA fans couldn't resist the temptation to continue their All-Ireland celebrations with a trip to London for the Rugby World Cup.

The Ireland team yesterday helped keep their week-long buzz alive with a 44-10 victory over Romania as Wembley Stadium was hit by a green tidal wave of fans cheering on their heroes.

"We've been having the craic since the Kerry match - the rugby boys will keep us on a high for a little bit longer," Jimmy Donnolly, from Skerries, told the Herald outside the stadium.

"We can definitely go all the way and win this World Cup," added Johnny Moore, from Crumlin.

The strains of Amhran na bhFiann echoed deep in the bowels of the London Underground as the Jubilee Line became a raucous, riot of green-clad colour and noise.

London basked in glorious autumnal sunshine as a record 90,000 spectators flooded towards the stadium.

Simon McCarthy, from Clontarf, had travelled with his girlfriend, Sinead, to sample World Cup fervour up close and personal.

His main worry was that some of our key players might pick up an injury against a dogged Romanian side.

"We need everything going for us in the upcoming games against Italy and France," he warned.

Meanwhile, two fanatical Ireland supporters - Brian and Emily Grady, from Foxford, Co Mayo, and Rathmichael, Co Dublin, and now living in Australia - said their hope for World Cup glory is also tinged with caution.

"We booked our trip to this tournament on the basis that Ireland will reach the final - we paid in advance for nearly everything," said Brian. "That's where our headspace is, given the class and talent of the Irish team.

"Anything less than a World Cup final place would just be simply gut-wrenching."

As the match got under way, it became clear it would be the job of the Irish to wear down what was in reality a fair- ly mediocre Romanian side.

Simon Zebo drew huge cheers as the full-back jinked towards the try line, and moments later when Tommy Bowe crashed across it the stadium erupted.

Keith Earls also had the Irish fans on their feet with an excellent display of skill and style.

With a resounding victory in the bag and Ireland now topping their pool, fans partied last night in various watering holes around the English capital.

But there was also a sense that they were saving themselves for sweeter moments to come - as Ireland's World Cup odyssey sails on.

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