Friday 19 December 2014

Fans paint Paris green for clash

Supporters line out for O'Driscoll's last game

Published 15/03/2014 | 02:30

Denise Creed and Lynn O'Connor at the Arc De Triomphe aheed of the six nations game against France.   Picture; GERRY MOONEY.   14/3/14
Denise Creed and Lynn O'Connor at the Arc De Triomphe

THE countdown has begun and Paris has been invaded by a singing army of green-shirted Irish supporters.

The French capital has been overrun by thousands of travelling fans, who have arrived en masse, spilling in by planes, trains and automobiles.

Many have come directly from home soil, while hundreds have travelled from other countries overseas to enjoy the sporting action and what revellers are hoping will be a winning day for Ireland.

The city has been building with excitement and anticipation ahead of tonight's kick-off at 6pm local time and for a lot of fans, being present to experience Brian O'Driscoll's last international game in a green jersey was the pull factor.

For friends Noel Gleeson, John McConway and Dara Dalton, this fixture was one they simply could not miss.

"We never usually go to away matches, but this one is special – it's for BOD," Mr Gleeson said.

Dubliners David Ding, Andrew Noonan and Conor O'Neill booked their flights 11 months ago.

"It's just a big game, we knew it would be one to talk about for years to come," Mr Ding said.

Recently married Wayne and Lynn O'Connor are dedicated supporters and follow the squad to all their away matches.

UK-based couple Stephen O'Neill and Claire Halpenny will this evening attend their first ever Ireland rugby match.

"Our families are from Carlow and Fermanagh and everyone was talking about going to this particular game – we can't wait," Mr O'Neill said.

"How can you sit at home watching this game of all games when we know it's Brian's final line-out for his country?" added Wicklow man Dom Crotty, who brought his son Rory to France for the event.

THRILLING

Stade de France will be teaming with 80,000 fans as they descend upon the grounds in Saint Denis for the last – and perhaps most thrilling – fixture of the 2014 Six Nations.

Speaking at the post-captain's run press conference yesterday, Munster man Peter O'Mahony said that while the players are looking forward to the game this evening, there is always pressure in coming to Paris.

"It's a tough place to come and play and a tough stadium in which to get a win. We're confident in our training and preparation this week."

After a light training session to get a feel for the grounds, Joe Schmidt's Ireland squad took in some of the sights of the host city yesterday afternoon. The team are staying along the Champs Elysees.

Gordon D'Arcy joined his team mates Rory Best, Martin Moore and Mike Ross to wander down one of Europe's most famous streets.

Irish pubs around the capital were heaving with enthusiasts last night, with several ordering in extra kegs of beer to accommodate the thirsty punters.

Sport: Pages 72-78

Irish Independent

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