Tuesday 6 December 2016

The heroes are home: Ireland team arrives into Dublin Airport after Euro 2016 dream ends

Jane O'Faherty

Published 27/06/2016 | 16:38

The Republic of Ireland squad including Shane Duffy, front, on their arrival back from UEFA Euro 2016 on CityJet's new Superjet. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane on their arrival back from UEFA Euro 2016 on CityJet's new Superjet
Robbie Keane of Republic of Ireland on their arrival back from UEFA Euro 2016
John O'Shea, front, and Darren Randolph of Republic of Ireland on their arrival back from UEFA Euro 2016 on CityJet's new Superjet. CityJet is the official partner to the FAI. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
John O'Shea, front, Darren Randolph, centre, and Jonathan Walters of Republic of Ireland on their arrival back from UEFA Euro 2016 on CityJet's new Superjet. CityJet is the official partner to the FAI. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Shane Duffy, front, James McClean, Seamus Coleman, James McCarthy, Ciaran Clark and David Meyler of Republic of Ireland on their arrival back from UEFA Euro 2016 on CityJet's new Superjet. CityJet is the official partner to the FAI. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Robbie Keane, front, John O'Shea, Darren Randolph, Jonathan Walters, and Stephen Quinn of Republic of Ireland on their arrival back from UEFA Euro 2016 on CityJet's new Superjet. CityJet is the official partner to the FAI. Dublin Airport, Dublin. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

This is the first photograph of the Ireland team returning home after they lost their Euro 2016 dream to France yesterday.

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But the party is just beginning.

Hundreds are expected at Dublin Airport this afternoon to welcome the heroes home after they beat all odds and reached the final 16 in the European tournament.

Speaking to the Irish Independent yesterday, Robbie Brady's sister Nikki described what had been a whirlwind day for her family.

"We were at home with some family, and we were all screaming and jumping around," she told the Irish Independent. "We couldn't believe it."

Nikki added that the celebrations were only just beginning.

"We'll never stop celebrating. We're so proud of him," she said.

"All of his life, we'll always admire him for what he's done."

Robbie sealed his place in Irish football history with a stunning goal against Italy last Wednesday, securing Ireland's place in the last 16. Although Robbie is guaranteed a hero's welcome when he gets back from Lyon, a taste of the veneration to come was saved for his delighted mum Maria.

Arriving to the pub just minutes after the final whistle blew, Maria was greeted by hearty renditions of 'Mamma Mia'.

"I don't think we're realising what has happened and how much of a hero he is," Maria said.

"We don't know how much it's going to go down in history yet.

"Robbie is the type whose heart and soul is in it," she added.

"From his heart to his soul to his feet - his whole body is in it."

Plans for the Boys in Green are yet unknown for the coming days, but there have been calls to grant the team a civic reception.

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