Friday 30 September 2016

Three generations of Ireland fans are off to the Euros ... via Disneyland

Published 08/06/2016 | 09:18

Ireland fans Andrew Whelan, 2nd from right, and his family: wife Gillian, son Charlie, 9 months, brother Martin, left, and their dad Denis. Navan, Co. Meath. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Ireland fans Andrew Whelan, 2nd from right, and his family: wife Gillian, son Charlie, 9 months, brother Martin, left, and their dad Denis. Navan, Co. Meath. Picture: Caroline Quinn

AS Euro 2016 fast approaches, unique modes of getting there, tales of credit union car loans spent on tickets, and sick days taken from work will be told as thousands head for France.

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Among the Irish masses bound for Paris, Bordeaux and Lille are three generations of the Whelan family from Navan, Co Meath – and possibly Ireland’s youngest fan at the tournament.

Alive

Charlie Whelan is just nine-months-old, but will be there with his die-hard parents, grandparents, uncle and sister. He was not alive for most of Ireland’s qualifying matches.

His dad, Andrew, said they were heading for France via Disneyland to make sure everyone gets what they want from the trip.

Read more: Irish supporters warned to stay away from fanzones as security expert warns of terror attack

“My wife is going, my mother is going, my mates are going,” he said. “We are doing Disneyland on the way and then it is on to the football after that. My daughter Faye is keen to go there and we want to keep everyone happy.”

Brothers Martin and Andrew are members of the Believe Supporters Club and will attend Ireland’s games against Sweden, Belgium and Italy with their father Denis (73).

“We set up the club as a natural progression from queueing for tickets during Ray Tracey’s time as manager and meeting people at games. My father used to queue up along with my mother beside the Liffey through the night to get tickets but, thankfully, it is different now.”

Grandfather Denis said he never had a chance to go to any tournaments before. “We have a campsite booked. We will travel up and down from it for the three games and if they qualify we will be still there for the games if they go on. I’m going with what Eamon Dunphy said and I think we will get out of the group. I trust Eamon.

“I remember going to see Eoin Hand’s teams, but Jack (Charlton) was the main man.”

Denis’s wife Kay is also travelling, with Andrew’s wife Jillian. The couple’s grandchild Faye (5) is keen to visit Mickey Mouse.

Queue

“Years ago we used to have to queue down on Westmoreland Street for tickets,” said Kay. “I think we must have been mad, but it was worth it for times like this.

“I wouldn’t be going now only for the grandchildren. It is great that the grandchildren are incorporated.”

The family will also be carrying a flag with a unique story of its own.

The “Believe” flag was created prior to the memorable Hand of Henry encounter with France in 2009. They hope it will have a more successful return to Paris this time.

Herald

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