independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Proudly defiant Ireland supporters rub it into Roy

We’ll sing what we want and where we want, say diehards

Trish Freeley and Ciara Corrigan in Poznan yesterday

One word easily sums up the mood of Irish fans in the stands last night -- defiant.

Defiance against circumstances since there was nothing to play for but pride.

Defiance against Roy Keane's comment that fans should have a change of attitude and not turn up for a sing-song.

Defiance against the fact that they they start the trip back to Ireland, Australia, Canada and wherever else today and back to reality -- so they sang every chance they had with 'The Fields of Athenry' getting an early and powerful airing.

Mr Keane, the former captain, was told where to go with a new tune sung in the streets of Poznan and stands last night.

"We will sing what we want, f***k you Roy Keane, we will sing what we want," it went.

"Well we may not have the best bunch of players ever, at least none of them walked out with the sulks," said long-time fan Joe Jordan from Portobello in Dublin.

"It has been a great trip despite the football," he added

The thousands wrung the last drops from the Polish odyssey in the scorching heat of Poznan yesterday with temperatures reaching the 30s and made their way to the stadium.

It would be wrong to say the result didn't matter, but most people were realistic saying even a goal would do.

"Hopefully 2-1 Ireland, in reality 5-0 Italy" said a pessimistic Tim Dunne (29) from Macroom, Co Cork, in Poznan's old Square yesterday with Billy Lynch (29) also from Macroom.

Italy had to win and win big to stand a chance of getting out of the group but the promising start by Ireland cheered fans up -- at least no early goals were conceded this time.

There were a few Poznans, and they showed their appreciation for the Polish hosts singing their signature chant of "Polska, Bialo-Czerwoni".

The feeling was mutual with around 100 Polish volunteers turning up at a thank you ceremony for Irish fans earlier in the day.

Tickets

And in a nice touch, the volunteers -- who were dotted around town to help supporters -- left messages in chalk on the city path thanking the Irish, Italian and Croatians fans for being good business.

The Cassano goal, 10 minutes before half-time, saw a few empty seats dotted around the stand become more evident. And by the end of the game Ballotelli had put the final nail in the coffin after Andrews was sent off.

Tickets were easy to come by in Poznan yesterday.

At noon they were going at face value with the touts bringing their prices below that as kick-off approached

"The atmosphere has been super in the grounds and in the town," said Alan Gallagher (39), from Killbarrack, Dublin.

He faces the journey home on Thursday, flying to Dublin via London. Friends of his optimistically booked their trip with the assumption Ireland would make it out of the group and to the Ukraine.

They now face a 12-and-a-half hour journey later this week to Katowice before flying home. The price of optimism.

That optimism is long gone, but at least the memories remain.

Meanwhile, a black armband tribute at the Ireland-Italy match in memory of the victims of the Loughinisland massacre will help relatives cope better with the anniversary, a lawyer has said.

Families of the six men shot dead gathered in the Heights bar in the Co Down village -- the scene of the attack 18 years ago yesterday -- to watch the game and hold a special commemoration. Niall Murphy, solicitor for the families, said the gesture was emotional and poignant.

"The families would wish to convey to the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and the players their deep sense of gratitude for the honour that will be bestowed upon them, that the memories of their loved ones will be remembered on such a massive scale," he said.

Republic captain Robbie Keane said it was right that the team wore the armbands, a rare occurrence at an international game.

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