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nIALL’S ALL-iRELAND WINNER

Niall Horan reckoned it was going to be the best weekend of his life.

And he was certainly on song to achieve his dream as he stormed the stage at Croker in front of a staggering 83,000 screaming fans.

One of the most eagerly awaited concerts of the summer, for their dedicated fans it proved to be the best gig ever.

When the five chart-toppers opened the first night in Croker at 8.20pm, the screams could have been heard all the way back in Niall’s native Mullingar.

Literally opening the show with a bang, fireworks exploded to coincide with their first track, Midnight Memories

Excitement had been building for weeks after they received rave reviews for the South American leg of their tour.

And the die-hard Directioners ignored organisers’ warnings not to queue too early, showing their devotion by waiting in the driving rain from early on.

The spectacular set included seven giant screens and an arsenal of dazzling lights and enough pyrotechnics to raise the roof.

The lads then smoothly moved on to their second track Little Black Dress. And you can only imagine that every fan wished it was about them when the lads belted out Kiss You as they bounded down the extended walkway that stretched out onto the pitch.

But it was Niall who got the biggest cheers of all when, shortly after 8.30pm, Harry told the crowd, “let’s talk about Niall” as he gestured to his bandmate, who was wearing a green and white top.

Draping a tricolour around him, he sang a brief rendition of the usual crowd-pleasing Ole Ole’ before telling them how proud he was to be there.

He said: “Four years ago almost to the day, I stood over to the corner with my cousin and my brother auditioning for the X Factor, and look at me now.

“I have had so much love and support from you guys and hopefully we can pay you back for that tonight. You don’t get to play Croke Park every night.”

He added how the next song was particularly important for him as he wrote it and “it sums it all up for me. It’s called Don’t Forget Where You Belong”.

Spits of rain had fallen minutes before the band came on but they were well equipped with a small gazebo on stage over the drum kit.

The party really started when the quintet blasted out Midnight Memories.

beamed

Niall beamed from ear-to-ear as he played the guitar.

Last night’s crowd was the boyband supergroup’s biggest ever in a single show.

Niall joked: “Not too many Westmeath men make it to Croke Park”, as he held the tricolour in the air.

And he’ll be doing it all again tonight and tomorrow as 160,000 more fans have yet to see them take to the stage.

One Direction are staying at the Fitzwilliam Hotel on St Stephen’s Green while they’re in Dublin.

Although there were security fears in the build up to this weekend — with rumours that their management team wanted to move them to the Powerscourt Hotel and Spa in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow — it was decided they remain in the city centre in order to be closer to the airport.

The Fitzwilliam also has an underground car park so the popstars can come and go from the building without getting swarmed by fans.

Niall and his band mates jetted over to Glasgow ahead of a scheduled commitment today, but will jet back to Dublin this evening.

He will get a chance to kick back and relax with friends tonight also, as a number of his close pals — and TV host Eoghan McDermott will join up with him after he comes off stage.

Fellow Mullingar native 
Bressie will not get to see Niall in action however, as he is in Austria.

mfinn@herald.ie


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