herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

HOPE: Green Army still believe

THE depression has turned to defiance as thousands of upbeat Irish fans flooded into the city of Gdansk for the next phase of the Euro adventure.

Nursing hangovers and with expectations somewhat lowered, the Green Army has vowed to "party on" over the next week in Poland.

A large number of fans went straight to the team hotel in Sopot on the outskirts of this beautiful city where they showed their support.

Singing songs and chanting Stand Up For The Boys In Green, the supporters gave the Irish squad a welcome boost following the heartbreak of Croatia's win on Sunday.

The unbelievable spirit, enthusiasm and genuine belief of the travelling support remained intact on the five-hour road trip to Gdansk, with thousand more fans pouring into the country today.

Every train out of what is one of Poland's oldest cities was overbooked as hammers and bananas were deflated to make extra room.

And there was a deflated mood too among the weary travellers, many of whom hadn't seen a pillow in over 24 hours. The first trains to Gdansk rolled out at 3am -- just over four hours after the final whistle ended a miserable night of soccer.

But while those in Poland might have every reason to be sombre, there was little sign of it in the early hours of this morning.

Hundreds of fans decided to give their green jerseys a night off (or perhaps an airing), so while the streets of Sopot where not laden with the emerald, they rang to the strains of Raglan Road and Sean South.

Among those in place early, were eight Drimnagh lads who have made heavy work of their journey east.

The friends' original plans were destroyed when Paul Lynskey lost his passport on a night out in Frankfurt.

"We had a four-hour detour to Berlin to get a new one and the guy in the embassy didn't even charge the extra for the speed because he said he 'wanted to play his part for the cause'," admitted Paul.



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Even after that slight mishap they group found themselves sleeping in a field of cows after they couldn't find a suitable campsite.

"We been through hell," laughed John Browne, when speaking to the Herald outside the Sheridan Hotel where the team are based.

But he added: "The main thing now is that we beat Italy and get a draw against Spain."

One man who had no such problems with passports was Jason Rio, from Dungarvan, who abandoned life in Australia to make it to Poland.

After deciding to take a break from his one-year visa he travelled from Sydney to Perth before stopping in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Germany on the way.

"It took just over three weeks but every minute of it was worth it -- except for today," he joked referring to the long night in Poznan after the opening game.

Optimistically he added: "We still have a chance. You never know."

Even more hopeful were Declan Fennelly, Patrick O'Shea and John McMahon who suggested that we could win our final two games.

The lads are travelling in a 2006 Transit van with bunk beds in the back.

They told the Herald: "Poznan was very good with the Croatian fans.

"We had great fun with the Croatians."

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