Defeat can't dampen the party spirit as Poles roll out the red carpet for Irish fans
IT’S the play-offs for the Boys in Green after Martin O’Neill’s men fell just short of the 2-2 draw needed for automatic qualification for Euro 2016.
They came agonisingly close, throwing everything at Poland in the final 20 minutes.
But Poland held out to win 2-1, and now Ireland will go into the pot for next week’s play-off draw with potential opponents including Ukraine, Sweden and Hungary.
It’s not the first time that Poland has hosted the legions of the Green Army.
Despite the loss, they had more to celebrate this time than during the ill-fated Euro 2012 campaign, bringing the streets of Warsaw’s Old Town to a standstill.
Still buzzing from the victory over world champions Germany, the Irish fans were hungry for more, with many already planning their trip to France next year.
“I’ll be there, no doubt about it,” said Dundalk man Noel Farrell. “We will be swapping the Polish vodka for the French wine, maybe even the champagne if we keep going the way we are going.”
“The Polish lads are great craic,” said Galway man Ruairi Guckian. “They have been so welcoming and have made sure our drinks didn’t run dry. They were singing and cheering with us all night.”
Rosie Dooney, from Caracastle, Co Mayo, said the atmosphere was unlike “anything I have ever experienced in my life..”
“It’s fantastic. The Polish and Irish are mixing so well – it’s hard to beat it,” she said.
Some 3,000 Irish fans had travelled, and they tried to out-sing the 50,000 home supporters in the stadium with a chorus of “Come on you boys in green”.
“This is super Sunday, never mind your Premiership – this is what it’s all about,” said Brian Culleton, from
Martina Minchin, also from Carlow, made the trip with her Polish partner Krzysztof Toin, who said it was win-win for him, no matter who won.
“Ireland and Poland are the two best countries in the world. We are the same in so many ways. For me it would be great no matter who wins because I will cheer for them both at the Euros anyway,” said Krzysztof, who has lived in Bagenalstown for the past 11 years.
Ray Savage, from Co Cork, also said Irish-Polish relations were at an all-time high.
“It is unbelievable. Everyone is getting on with everyone and everyone is hoping for a two-all draw,” he said.
Local woman Agnus Badrawska said Polish people loved welcoming the Irish.
“There is so much love between our countries. You
welcomed us to your country, and we welcomed you for the Euros in 2012. We share so much like religion, and we all like a few drinks,” she joked.