Monday 16 January 2017

The Irish have invaded Lille and are predicting one outcome against the Italians

Ralph Riegel and Wayne O'Connor in Lille

Published 20/06/2016 | 17:42

A group of Irish fans in Lille
A group of Irish fans in Lille

THE Green Army began the invasion of Lille as Irish fans predicted an Italian job at Euro 16.

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Tens of thousands of Irish fans began arriving in the northern French city for Ireland's critical final group game with Italy on Wednesday.

Ireland need a repeat of the famous win over the Forza Azzurri from World Cup 94 for the Green Army to progress to the last sixteen in Euro 16.

"We just arrived in Lille. We were in Bordeaux and travelled up by train. We had to change in Paris and that was bad enough."

"But everyone said it is a pretty tough drive straight from Bordeaux," said Gary Morrissey from Ballymun, Dublin and Rachel Mulvany from Dundrum, Dublin.

Both are lucky enough to have tickets for the Italian match - and described the atmosphere in Bordeaux over the past week as "very special."

Gary Morrissey from Ballymun, Dublin and Rachel Mulvany from Dundrum, Dublin
Gary Morrissey from Ballymun, Dublin and Rachel Mulvany from Dundrum, Dublin

"We're hoping Ireland can do it on Wednesday night," Gary said.

The Green hordes descended on Rue de Parvis St Michel where the popular Irish pub, Tir na nOg, is located.

The pub was packed from late morning.

For others, it was a question of a quick stop-over for refreshment in the city centre by Place Charles de Gaulle before linking up with fellow Irish fans.

But the invasion by the Green Army was marked by miserable weather conditions including heavy rain.

Veterans of Poland 12 opted for a base in the historic Lille city centre.

"It's a bit of a walk from the train station to the Irish pubs," explained brothers Willie and Joe Prizeman from Malahide in Dublin.

The brothers were in Lille with Joe's son, John Prizeman from Raheeny, and their friends, John Mulligan from Mayo, Peter Keogh from Baldoyle and Eamon Clancy from Stradbally in Waterford.

Hotels are booked out in Lille city centre as up to 50,000 Irish fans are expected to swamp the northern French city.

Some fans hope to travel to the Italian match from bases in Belgium, just across the border.

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