Saturday 22 October 2016

Hopes sky high as Green Army marches on Cardiff

Cherie Kirwan and Laurna Else in Cardiff city centre
Cherie Kirwan and Laurna Else in Cardiff city centre

Unlike the Irish fans, Cardiff is calm. The city was functioning as normal yesterday with workers racing for their trains, locals going about their business and shops stocking up on winter clothes.

In the background though there was a queue of people trying to get a photo with the now famous rugby ball that has crashed through the castle wall.

Berets were selling for £5 and pubs were unusually busy from long before dark.

The Irish are here in great numbers and colour. The All Blacks and French, too. And, somewhat anonymously ,the Pumas are lurking.

For Ireland, the mood is somewhat different from the usual sojourns. This time we have hope and expectation. Neither sit well. The party was always enough - until now.

Fans were cautiously confident as they started the party a little early.


Erol Aykan from Ballsbridge caused consternation with his friends by predicting "a comfortable win".

The lads are camping at a site behind Cardiff Castle as accommodation is at a premium.

"We had a bit of a crisis when we got here and discovered that we'd no tent pegs in the bag," said Erol, before his friend, Killian Colman, from Mount Merrion, quipped: "Yeah, a real crisis... it gave us an excuse to go and get a crate of beer."

Along with their travelling companions - MacDara O Ciardha from Kilmacud, Conor Lambe from Ballsbridge, and Donal O'Neill from Mount Merrion - the gang will have just a five-minute walk from their tent to the Millennium Stadium tomorrow. They gave themselves a pat on the back for their good planning.

"A year is a long time to look forward to an October campaign trip," they laughed.

Anyone hoping to make a last minute trip the quarter-final against Argentina will see their wallet suffer something similar to a Sean O'Brien tackle.

Only category A and B match tickets remained on the official Rugby World Cup website yesterday evening, meaning fans will have to fork out up to €340. Ryanair's one-way flight to Cardiff costs €260.99.

But the Green Army of fans are here in their droves and keeping everything crossed.

Ireland's call to win a quarter-final of the Rugby World Cup must finally be answered tomorrow.

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