Tuesday 17 October 2017

Partying is such Swede sorrow for Ireland fans

Sweden fans Anika Karlsson and Charlotte Johansson meet Shane O'Brien at the match.
Sweden fans Anika Karlsson and Charlotte Johansson meet Shane O'Brien at the match.
Sweden fans Anika Karlsson and Charlotte Johansson plant a kiss on Shane O'Brien
Model Nadia Forde sings the national anthem before kick-off
A dejected Irish fan after the final whistle
Ireland supporters Alina and Alex Jitari before the game
Martin Mallon, James Devlin, Kevin Sweeney, Curtis Darragh, and Conor Sweeney inside the stadium
A glum Ireland supporter after the match

Fiach Kelly

MATCH-day optimism comes in many forms.

And let's face it, sometimes that's all we have to carry the Green Army along.

We went in there thinking we might win 3-0 at home in the most important match of the World Cup qualifying campaign, against Sweden

And maybe, just maybe, we could set it up nicely for next week's away game in Austria.

Then, even better, some of us might strike up a friendship with a few of the stereotypical blonde visitors to Dublin and hope it leads to more than a few penpal letters to Scandinavia.

Model Nadia Forde, who sang the national anthem before kick-off, had some serious competition from those in yellow.

Many Irish fans, while cautiously optimistic before kick-off about the team's chances, nevertheless fancied their own chances after the final whistle had blown in the Aviva.

But it wasn't to be on the pitch, and a 2-1 defeat effectively ended our hopes of making the World Cup in 2014.

"We're devastated, we're gutted," said John Gunning from Trim, Co Meath. "We're not going to Brazil. There's a fundamental problem that these guys don't think they're good enough, when they should think they can beat anybody."

"Once they got the equaliser, we went flat," said Ger Bonass from Coolock.

But there were other battles to be fought.

Obviously, given our fondness for a certain furniture warehouse, cultural ties between our two countries have blossomed in recent years. We Irish would fancy ourselves as having a deep understanding of our Swedish friends.

"I hear Sweden are playing a flat-pack four tonight," said one supporter on his way into the ground.

Two friends from Stockholm, the very glamorous Anika Karlsson and Charlotte Johansson, were making their way into Lansdowne Road when the slightly less glamorous, but no doubt big-hearted, Shane O'Brien from Newtownforbes, Co Longford, zeroed in.

SCORE

"Come here, are yous going partying later on?" asked Shane, seizing his chance after a posed photo with the Swedes. "Give us your number there for after, like."

Effort and chutzpah is always rewarded, and phone numbers were duly exchanged. And as for score predictions before we were wiped out?

"4-1 Sweden, Zlatan will get two," said Anika, pinning her hopes on Zlatan Ibrahimovic to come up with the goods.

And Shane's prediction?

"A three-in-one in the chipper after will do me grand," he said, possibly knowing that the night can't get any better than sweet-talking phone numbers out of a pair of Swedish blondes, just two of a massive travelling contingent.

"We've got the best spot in the house," said Ross Colley from Dunboyne, Co Meath, as he and his mates sipped pints on a rising outside The Chophouse on Bath Avenue while surveying the yellow masses coming from the city centre.

Swedish fans estimated their numbers at 6,000, although it looked much higher than that inside the stadium, with one end completely yellow and other pockets of fans dotted around the stadium.

John Latchford from Galway marvelled at the large number of female visiting fans who passed him by.

"Different gravy, I just got my picture taken with one of them," he said.

After last night, that picture will probably will be his only fond memory of Ireland's World Cup 2014 campaign.

Unless, of course, he had more luck off the pitch with the Swedes than the Irish team did on it.

Irish Independent

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