Euro 2012: "I’m going to call my kid Giovanni Toner" pledges fan as jubilant Irish start saving
Published 16/11/2011 | 07:06
"TELL the Government to recapitalise the credit unions," shouted one ecstatic football fan. "We're going to Poland!"
A sea of green washed over the streets around Dublin's Lansdowne Road as devoted supporters roared with joy after Ireland qualified for Euro 2012.
Jubilant fans were already making plans to travel to Poland for the international competition next summer, pushing thoughts of economic doom, gloom and recession to the back of their minds.
Stephen Toner, who drove 100 miles from Belfast to watch the match, was so overjoyed he pledged to name his unborn child Giovanni in honour of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni.
"I'm going to call my kid Giovanni Toner - that'll be on his birth certificate when he's born in January," cheered a rapturous Mr Toner.
But he said he doesn't care how much it costs to get to Poland. "I'll be buying my flights instead of nappies," he laughed.
Ciaran Egan from Kildare, tucking into a celebratory hamburger and dressed head to toe in green, said he was prepared to work three jobs to raise enough cash to get there.
"Tonight has been one of the biggest and best nights," he said over the sound of honking cars and triumphant chants. "And I can't wait to do it all again in the summer."
An emotional Garrett Kelly, Eoin Mannion and Seanie Gaffey, from Athlone, were in Tallinn last Friday for the first-leg away match where Ireland beat Estonia 4-0.
But they said nothing compares to a victory on home soil.
Mr Gaffey said: "Tallinn was unbelievable, an amazing buzz and we've been up on a high from it all week. But nothing beats being home."
All three are already making plans to call on their Polish friends for a place to stay during the competition.
Mr Mannion, with a celebratory drink in his hand, joked that there may be more Irish people than Polish next year when Ireland's diehard supporters descend on the eastern European country.
His face, painted green, white and gold, lit up when he talked about what this means for the nation.
"I said after Tallinn coming home on the plane you'll be going to your mother and father-in-law's on Christmas Day and you'll finally have something to talk about," he enthused.
"There'll be no doom and gloom after Christmas this year. It's going to be brilliant. It's brilliant for the economy and brilliant for us."
Mr Gaffey added: "Our country needs this to pick us all up. I know it's going to cost us money but we need something to look forward to, with everything that's going on. And sport can be one of the best ways to give you a boost. Just take a look around tonight."
Spirits were so high and the banter so lively that even the Estonian fans soaked up the party atmosphere.
Anne Kattai and Kylie Sarat, two Estonians living in Dublin for seven years, were still dressed in their blue, black and white, but that did not stop them congratulating the Irish.
"We were optimistic we might win tonight," said Anne. "When it comes to your home team you have to believe in them. But you have to look on the bright side and Ireland is like our home too so it's not so bad. Everyone is just so excited."