Sunday 11 December 2016

Clash against our oldest foe will be a whole new ball game

Published 01/06/2015 | 02:30

Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland side will meet England next Sunday in the first friendly between the teams on Irish soil since the riot in 1995
Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland side will meet England next Sunday in the first friendly between the teams on Irish soil since the riot in 1995

The walkie-talkie crackled, "there's a problem in West Stand Upper". We stood just inside the tunnel of Lansdowne Road in the middle of the West Stand Lower. Even with the chaotic clamour around us, those chilling words cut through.

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Suddenly, our worst fears were being realised. It was February 15, 1995 and the Republic of Ireland were playing England in an international friendly match. Some English fans were rioting.

After 27 minutes, the match was abandoned. Both sets of players shook their heads in bewilderment as they were ushered into their dressing rooms for fear that the situation would escalate rapidly.

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