Wednesday 21 March 2018

A match made in Heaven (pity about the football)

WILL YOU? Martina's pitch-side proposal brightens a dull night

IT was one of those nights at the Aviva Stadium when the fans had little to cheer about -- but never stopped anyway.

A Mexican Wave that infected the 37,000 fans seemed almost immune to anything happening on the field, as bored fans tried to amuse themselves.

But suddenly it all changed when, in true leap year tradition, Martina Connolly (38) leapt on to the pitch to propose to stunned partner Derek McGill (42).

"I've been thinking about it for the past year," Martina, from Islandbridge, said.

And fortunately Derek said "yes"-- sparking thunderous cheers throughout the Aviva.

They were the undoubted stars of the show.

The only other bright spot was the appearance of Sunderland sensation James McClean.

He might have only been given 11 minutes of play, but he arrived on the pitch to a standing ovation and his first touch of the ball brought the biggest cheers of the night, even surpassing the excitement that welcomed Stephen Cox's late equaliser.

With the Czechs out of the way there is now only one more game -- against Bosnia -- to go before the Green Army migrates to Poland for the summer.

At best, last night's game was was a dull and uninspiring encounter -- but the fans simply didn't care.


And they sent a loud message to the Polish people whose towns they are set to descend on: "We're coming for a party."

The match was a perfect Euro 2012 rehearsal for Trapattoni's men. Both sets of fans were treated to just a few glimpses of exciting football but in the end, the two teams settled for a draw.

Simon Cox's smooth finish five minutes from time cancelled out the Czechs' earlier goal scored by former Liverpool striker Milan Baros.

The Czech fans, though few in number, were in good form.

"It's great to be in Dublin. We know you guys are excited about the European championships as much as we are," said Czech woman Iveta Hermannova.

Meanwhile Irish fans were focused firmly on getting to Poland in July -- the 'how' yet to be decided.

"There's nothing stopping us going. We have no tickets, we have no plan, but this is a once- off thing," said Paul Moloney from Co Offaly.

Dubliners Niall Hand and Laura McNally will also be part of the Green Army travelling east in July.

"It's a trip of lifetime, the result here doesn't matter, it's all about heading to Poland, bring it on," Niall told the Herald.

Over 35,000 fans were at the Aviva -- and they made sure neighbours on nearby Lansdowne Road knew that Trap's army had entered the field.

Every car, window and wall will be painted green next summer for what is sure to give the country a huge lift.

Fans will be breaking open their piggy banks -- with two weeks in Poland and Ukraine sounding sweeter than any wedding proposal.

All aboard? For the party has truly begun.


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