All roads lead to Lyon for 50,000-strong Green Army
Published 25/06/2016 | 02:30
The Green Army rolled confidently into Lyon determined Ireland will be extending their stay after their Euro 2016 match against Les Bleus tomorrow.
More than 50,000 Irish fans are due to arrive in France's second city over the next 24 hours buoyed by fresh reinforcements from home.
An estimated 20,000 Irish fans are now resorting to desperate measures to make it to Lyon from Dublin, Cork, Limerick and other Irish cities - with some even travelling via Madrid, Turin, Zurich and Munich in a desperate bid to keep costs down.
Fans are hopeful Martin O'Neill's team can do the business in the knock-out rounds by beating France and progressing into the quarter-finals.
However, following two weeks of celebrations, some members of the Green Army are starting to feel it. Rob Feeney said Irish fans are exhausted after the past fortnight but are being kept going by adrenaline.
"It'll be magic against the French in Lyon, but I still reckon Lille will be our Italia '90 moment," he said.
However, Irish fans face a desperate scramble for tickets for the clash with France on Sunday afternoon.
Lyon's brand-new Stade Olympique Lyonnaise has a 60,000 capacity - but the FAI's allocation was just 4,500 tickets. A further 1,000 tickets became available via UEFA but French fans are expected to snap up all other allocations, with prices of tickets offered by touts soaring.
Fans of Les Bleus are expected to out-number Irish fans in the Lyon stadium by at least five to one.
"Tickets are the problem alright," admitted Ciaran Hickey from Dublin. "We're heading down to Lyon by train from Lille and Paris. We're OK for accommodation but we haven't heard a thing about tickets."
"The longer it goes on, the less hopeful I am. But we'd love to be there after what happened in Lille against Italy."
The eight-strong garda team led by Supt Gerry Delmar arrived in Lyon last night for consultations with local police.
Supt Delmar repeated his plea for Irish fans to travel safely and to obey all French traffic and security directions. Fans have also been warned to allow plenty of time to reach Lyon stadium, which is located some distance from the city centre.
Lyon city officials admitted they were delighted they secured Ireland for their last-16 match.