herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Team beaten but Green Army unbowed

The Poznan party bus has reached its end -- but not before we danced into the daylight.

We're going home today with our footballing reputation in tatters but our country's status immeasurably raised.

The Green Army really stormed Euro 2012, gathering momentum in the face of adversity and new allies when our numbers should have been drastically depleted.

There is no shame in defeat so long as the spirit is unconquered.

United in their disapproval of Roy Keane and their refusal to feel defeated, the fans ensured Poznan will remember Ireland for a long time.

At 6am today the fans were still singing in the streets.

Well, perhaps singing is too polite because the sound of thousands of hoarse Irish voices was far from melodic on these historic streets.

Crowds

The crowds swarmed the city lining its streets in such numbers that it took over an hour to get food in most restaurants.

Thousands of fans arrived on flights for the final game. It was lucky there was some fresh blood because those of us who have been on the go for 11 days couldn't have carried the night on our own.

Friendships

There are weary bones, tired heads and defective voices right across Poznan this morning.

At several points during the game I was unsure my legs would last the 90 minutes.

We haven't sat down at any stage during the three defeats.

If we're honest, the thousands of campers seemed relieved that the journey won't take us to Ukraine.

Another night in a tent would have tested even the best of friendships.

Ireland is now "big news" in the Polish media. Scenes of the chorus of The Fields of Athenry at the end of the Spain game have been played on national television again and again.

The mass exodus starts today. We will be sorry to leave but most will also be relishing the idea of a night in their own bed.

Rest assured that no matter what happened on the pitch, the travelling army have done their country some justice.

hnews@herald.ie

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