Polish town goes green as Ireland look to finish with victory
THERE were shades of the Phoenix Park in 1994 and that homecoming for the Irish side following the World Cup finals here in Poland yesterday when the Polish players had their farewell party.
Defeat to the Czech Republic on Saturday night means that the co-hosts are out of Euro 2012 but there was no opportunity for the Polish players to slip off into the night and escape to the beaches of Europe as they had a formal farewell party before their fans in Warsaw yesterday.
And it was clear from the faces of the players that, just like Jack Charlton's boys in the Park in '94, that this was the last place they wanted to be. A bit like Ireland, the general mood here is that the only thing Poland can really celebrate about the tournament is their fans as the team have been a let down. "From The White And Reds, only the fans have won," was the damning front page headline in today's Przeglad Sportowy newspaper.
But it's still hard to get away from the Polish players as TV ads where players flog a number of products are still on rotation play in the ad breaks.
In one ad for a Polish supermarket which sponsors the side, one of the child mascots is initially left behind in the tunnel before the game before being rescued by captain Jakub Blaszczykoswki. A bit like Poland's team, so, left back in the dressing room.
WHATEVER about our players, the Irish fans are making a big impression on the locals in Poland, but especially here in Poznan. Upon arriving in Poznan from Gdansk on an early morning train yesterday, the first local we met, having made it clear that we were Irish, said: "Ah, what great fans you are". The Evening Herald then informed our new friend that we were in fact journalists to which he said "Sure, journalists are just like fans". A statement that Trapattoni would probably find fault with.
But they do love the Irish supporters. "Today, let's wear something green" says the front page piece in the Poznan section of the Gazeta Wyborcza daily paper today.
"Today Ireland finish Euro 2012 with a game against Italy. Countless people with a brilliant attitude to football, life and fun have come and turned Poznan green, so we should thank them for that by going to the game with all of us wearing green," they added.
THAT display by Ireland's fans in Gdansk at the end of the 4-0 defeat to Spain is still making an impression. Following requests from fans here to explain what exactly the fans were singing about, one of the newspapers here today opted to print, in English, the lyrics of 'The Fields Of Athenry' with a translation also available. Get ready to hear it in Polish!