as the One Direction song goes, Live While We’re Young’, and that is exactly what music fan Sharon O’Connor did as she celebrated her 36th birthday at the band’s opening gig.
The Wexford native was one of 80,000 ticket-holders to descend upon GAA headquarters last night and left both her husband and children at home to blow out her candles at the sold-out 1D concert.
Dressed in green to welcome Niall Horan home, Sharon and her pals drove up to Dublin for the weekend and said there was no better way to toast turning another year older.
“It’s something different and a great way to spend a birthday - it’s just a bit of fun,” Sharon told The Herald.
“We’re going nightclubbing afterwards and having some drinks.”
Fans came from far and wide to be part of the occasion - but none further than Japan.
Tokyo-based friends Meju, Suzuka, Nodoka and Azusa count themselves among 1D’s most loyal followers and are taking in two One Direction gigs this weekend.
The four students came over specially, after seeing the boys perform twice already this year.
“We came to Dublin before as well for their concert in the O2, so we absolutely love them,” Meju said.
“We’re staying this time for six days so we’ll do some tourist attractions while we’re here too,” the 28-year-old added.
The rain was beating down as crowds arrived at Croker yesterday afternoon, but it did not dampen spirits and the throngs arrived well prepared for the wet weather.
Parents kitted-out their children in anoraks and Wellington boots before setting out for the show last night.
Kids wore T-shirts emblazoned with the faces of their favourite One Direction members underneath their jackets and accessorised their outfits with 1D hats, bags, shoes and even face paint.
For many of the young revellers, it was their first ever concert experience and they were shaking with excitement at seeing the pop group belt out their 24-track set list as part of their Where We Are world tour.
Athlone sisters Fiona Duggan and Caroline O’Reilly brought their daughters, eight-year-old Chloe Duggan, nine-year-old Ella O’Reilly and eight-year-old Sarah O’Reilly, along after making their first Holy Communion.
“They made their Communion on May 11 and this was the treat from all the relatives - you wouldn’t believe the excitement on the way up,” Fiona said.
“It’s so exciting, I remember my first concert was Fleetwood Mac and it was a fantastic day - so it’s a big deal for the girls.”
The group drove straight home after the gig ended and had their kids’ pyjamas ready and waiting in the car.
Seven-year-old cousins Ruby and Libby Warden from Belfast made their way to Croker on a coach alongside hundreds of other revellers.
Their tickets were a surprise in their Christmas stockings.
“We got our tickets from Santa, it was definitely the best present he’s ever brought me,” Ruby said.
Little Caitlin and Ella Long, aged six and four, were gearing up for the night for weeks, after discovering their tickets under the Christmas tree last December.
“Obviously we’re here for the girls and to see the smiles on their faces when the lads walk out on stage, because they’ve never ever been to anything like this before - but my husband and I are actually fans too,” mother-of-two Lisa Long said.
She and other half Peter travelled from Donegal and said they would be singing along to Story Of My Life and You & I just as loudly as their daughters.
The Croke Park gigs have been described as The Homecoming’ for Mullingar-man Niall and concert-goers also spoke of their delight to be part of this momentous event in his career so far.
“There was no chance I was going to miss this, I love Niall and I want to cheer him on,” said Aisling Prashar from Wexford.