herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Irish football fans paint the town green after long journey to Sarajevo

Football

Irish fans in Sarajevo Sandra Green (Knocklyon) Damien Gallagher (Rockbrook) Eoin Stapleton (Ballyboden)
Irish fans in Sarajevo Sandra Green (Knocklyon) Damien Gallagher (Rockbrook) Eoin Stapleton (Ballyboden)

The colour green took over Sarajevo last night as Irish fans flocked to the city in force ahead of the game with Bosnia today.

Despite being allocated just over 900 tickets, Bosnia's capital was invaded with Irish fans, who balanced historic sightseeing with sampling the local brew.

Several fans expressed frustration at the length of the journey, which was not helped by the Lufthansa strike.

However, any hint of a negative mood was gone once the taps starting flowing in Sarajevo.

Mullingar native Jackie Kierkan and Wexford man Patrick Brennan described how, despite a tiring journey, they were delighted to have finally arrived in the Bosnian capital.

"We decided on Sunday morning to change our flights through Zurich to get here on Wednesday," he told the Herald.

"The funny thing was, our original flights went ahead as planned. The main thing is we're here, the local beer is great and the Irish are out in force.

"All we need now is a result to make it complete."

Irish fans in Sarajevo Jimmy Corroon (Mullingar) and Fergal O'Neill (Limerick)
Irish fans in Sarajevo Jimmy Corroon (Mullingar) and Fergal O'Neill (Limerick)

Fergal O'Neill, from Limerick, and Jimmy Corroon, from Mullingar, were affected by the strike.

"Now, how we got here is a story in itself. We went from Dublin to Zurich, then to Vienna and finally on to Sarajevo. We were originally supposed to go through Dusseldorf, but the strike changed all that," he said.

Other supporters had an easier trip, including Sandra Greene from Knocklyn, Eoin Stapleton, from Ballyboden, and Damien Gallagher, from Rockbrook, who all arrived early yesterday on a chartered 747 flight.

"We got a chartered flight over, so there were no problems at all. The pints here are nice and quite cheap (€1.50) so you can't complain," Sandra laughed.

"As long as we do well today it will all be fine."

Irish and local pubs alike in the capital decked out for the occasion, with more tricolours than Bosnian flags flying high outside the various bars along the city's old town.

With the difficulty traveling to Bosnia being an issue for most, not to mention the injury to Shane Long, surely luck must be on the Irish side today - even if it is Friday the 13th.

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