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Sunday 17 December 2017

How it all came together on the trip of a lifetime for the Man With No Plan

I finally got back to Ireland at lunchtime yesterday after a 29-hour trip by road and ferry with two Dublin lads I met over in Poland.

Coming home was a bit quicker than going out, which took four days and lifts from truck drivers and Irish fans.

But it was all worth it.

I never saw anything like Poznan last Monday night.

As the end of the game came we realised we were going home and the trip of a life time was over.

It was low at times after the game but we took it on the chin. There was no trouble to speak of, and no bad eggs to be seen.



VICTORY

Some Irish fans won a great victory off the field, with some of us even getting to meet Claudine Keane.

We partied with the Polish fans, who told us that they normally went home miserable after being knocked out. We made sure that didn't happen.

They didn't want us to leave as we sang 'we're never going home'.

It was a magnificent thing to be there, to witness a brilliant display of humanity.

At one stage the boss of Three Ireland, Robert Finnegan, spotted that I had accidentally ripped my shirt and even sorted me with a new one, out of the blue. That was just the vibe.

But in the end I had to get home, somehow. After all the partying I did I would've preferred to jump into the ditch on Tuesday rather than stick my thumb out for a lift.

I'd started off from my workplace in Cork last Tuesday two weeks, then hitchhiked from Rosslare, across the UK to London, then on through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany before finally arriving in Poland.

Various truck drivers and people picked me up along the way, and I spent most of the time chatting, sleeping and taking notes.

The last bit's easy when you're sharing a cab for eight hours with a Polish trucker who can't speak English.

In Poland I met two lads from Leitrim, Seamus Kennedy and Karl Rogers, who brought me to Poznan in their 2001 Almera.

On the way over I'd met two Dublin lads, Des and Noel Downey, who gave me their number for a lift back. I was delighted.



DISASTER

But disaster stuck when my phone broke and I lost the number. As I walked through the square in Poznan last Monday I wasn't sure what I was going to do.

My luck changed, however, when I accidentally bumped into a lad. He turned around and it was Des! The lift was back on.

At 9am on Tuesday morning we left and we drove for 17 hours straight from Poznan to Calais -- with a couple of food stops.

I drove the last 90km from Chester to Holyhead myself, and finally got back on Irish soil yesterday. I had a long-awaited pint of Guinness and will go home to Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick, today.

Why did I hitchhike over as The Man With No Plan?

Well, I got engaged to my fiancee Louise in April and getting married means the window of opportunity is closing. I want to have a family and you can't do this when you have kids!

I want to raise awareness of the work of the Alzheimers' Society of Ireland. I lost my mother, Kitty, to Alzheimers and have raised €32,000 for the Society with my brother.

Would I do again? Let's just say it was the best two weeks of my life!

*Check out photos of Pat's trip on the themanwithnoplan2012 Facebook page and Twitter feed

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