herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

The green army was simply magnificent

THERE are moments in life when you have to pause and realise that you will remember this forever.

Deaths, births, marriages. And then there was last night in Gdansk.

To witness the spectacle of the Irish fans redoubling their efforts time and again for what seemed like 100 choruses of the Fields of Athenry was special.

In the words of Joxer it brought tears to many eyes. Even the hardest of hearts couldn't have failed to be moved by the ripple of emotion.

The green army are the heroes of this tournament. No matter what happens, we are going home next Monday. The dream is dead but the spirit lives on.

I can only begin to imagine what the atmosphere will be like against Italy, because last night was something that will resonate in my mind forever.

At 4-0 down the supporters of most countries would at best go silent, or leave the stadium. But instead our travelling pack rose to their loudest yet.

Enthusiasm

The stunned Spaniards were in awe. They could not challenge the bizarre euphoria as Tricolours were waved with the sort of enthusiasm that many teams save for a big final win.

In Ireland, Euro 2012 will not be remembered for a 'who put the ball in the English net' experience, or magic moments like Giant Stadium.

However it will go down in the history books. It will be replayed and rehashed as a night that our small nation stood tall, ignored our problems and celebrated our existence. The build-up to the game was typical in its kaleidoscopic bedlam.

Thousands stormed the main streets of Gdansk. They chanted, they waved flags, made new friends and dreamed of what might be.

We really did believe that something special might happen... and it did, just not in the way we anticipated. It's hard to tell if the final 10 minutes of the game translated properly on television at home. If it did then the recriminations for this team will be minor. Yes, they have disappointed

But in ways the point is that Ireland are at the championships. We were always the bottom rung of the ladder coming in, but because of the colour and noise the fans have brought, we leave with our status embellished.

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