Monday 5 December 2016

'It's The Snapper Part Two' - Shane Long gets in the mood but hits out an 'scandalous' ticket situation

Striker unhappy with ‘scandalous’ ticket allocation in Lyon

Aidan Fitzmaurice in Versailles

Published 25/06/2016 | 02:30

Shane Long celebrates and (right) Robbie Brady's family do the conga
Shane Long celebrates and (right) Robbie Brady's family do the conga
'“I don’t really have family to ring back to because they are all over in France,” jokes Long.' Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Even before a ball is kicked - or handled in the case of French players - in the first meeting of the sides since 2009, Irish hackles are up as Shane Long says it's "scandalous" that our fans have only been awarded a small ticket allocation of less than 10pc of the stadium capacity in Lyon.

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The Southampton striker has already learned this month that there's no point in him putting in a call back to his homeplace of Gortnahoe in Tipperary to assess the mood of the nation about Euro 2016 because there's hardly anyone there.

"I don't really have family to ring back to because they are all over in France," jokes Long, a child of the '80s who still knows his history, as he later makes a joke by comparing footage of the conga outside Robbie Brady's family home in Dublin to scenes in The Snapper, and remarks on how the images flooding into the phones and social media accounts of the Ireland players here in France remind those players of better times.

Ireland fans have been allocated just 4,604 tickets for tomorrow's game, which takes place in a 50,000-capacity stadium, and that has already irked the players who have established a real bond with supporters since this tournament began, spirits now much higher and foundations much stronger than 2012 in Poland.

"I just got told about the tickets that we will be allocated. It's scandalous really with the good Irish support we have," Long said before the squad's departure from their Versailles base to Lyon last night.

"It's going to be like a home game for France, that's not the way it should be.

"All the lads' families are looking for tickets. The FAI are working really hard to try and get things sorted but because France knew three days in advance they obviously got as many as they could and there's not many left."

Home support will help Les Bleus but Long, not in Giovanni Trapattoni's plans for that infamous play-off in 2009, knows that the game tomorrow will be won on the field and not in the stands.

Yet the manner of the Irish win against Italy on Wednesday fosters optimism.

"I don't think it's like the last two or three tournaments that I've been in - this time I feel confident that we can go out and beat any team, with the way we've played," Long stated.

The only way is up: Shane Long celebrates after Robbie Brady's late winner against Italy on Wednesday.
The only way is up: Shane Long celebrates after Robbie Brady's late winner against Italy on Wednesday.

"We're not just nicking games, we are actually playing the games and creating chances and earning them.

"Italy was weird. It was one of the hardest 90 minutes I've ever had to play the other night but it was also the most enjoyable 90 minutes I've had.

"We got on the ball and we played; to beat Italy is no mean feat, but to control the game like we did was amazing."

Long has a good memory to draw on tomorrow, as his Southampton side won 4-0 and he scored two goals when he came up against Arsenal's French defender Laurent Koscielny in the Premier League season just gone.

His confidence is countered by an awareness of just how good the hosts can be.

"I keep going back to the fact that France are a very good side and they are not going to give us anything easy. They've got 11 match-winners in their team and a bench full of match-winners as well," he added.

"You sleep for one minute and they'll punish you. We have got to be like that for the 90 minutes. The gaffer will pick his formation that he thinks will do the best against them and the lads will go out and give it everything and hopefully it will be enough.

"We might need a little bit of luck along the way as well, but I think we are due that."

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