Friday 30 September 2016

'We will go hell for leather against Italy' - Fans in Bordeaux remain upbeat despite defeat

Cathal McMahon

Published 18/06/2016 | 17:43

Irish fans are down but not out after a crushing 3-0 defeat to Belgium today.

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From afternoon supporters without tickets for the game itself began filtering into the huge Fanzone at Bordeaux's Place de Quinconces.

And by kick-off around 20,000 Irish and Belgian fans were in the arena to watch the game on big screens.

After torrential downpours over the last number of days the Southern French sun finally appeared but it was shining on the Belgian fans and its players from the start.

By half-time the Green Army were relieved not to have conceded but that soon turned to dread with the concession of three goals to a far superior side.

They had little to cheer about but the Irish fans sang anyway, joining in with a chorus of 'The Fields of Athenry' as it was broadcast live from the stadium.

Irish supporters take a dip after Irish defeat. Picture Mark Condren
Irish supporters take a dip after Irish defeat. Picture Mark Condren
Irish supporters in Bordeaux Fanzone. Picture Mark Condren
Irish supporters in Bordeaux Fanzone. Picture Mark Condren
Irish supporters in Bordeaux Fanzone. Picture Mark Condren
Irish supporters in Bordeaux watch FAI chief John Delaney on big screen. Picture Mark Condren
Irish supporters in Bordeaux. Picture Mark Condren
Irish supporters take a dip after defeat. Picture Mark Condren
Irish supporters take a dip in Bordeaux - Picture Mark Condren
Irish supporters watch game in Bordeaux Fanzone. Picture Mark Condren

Speaking after the defeat most fans remained upbeat despite the drubbing.

Máire Griffin (28) from Ballybunion in Co Kerry and Cillian Holland from Carickmacross, Co Monaghan drove all the way down from London yesterday and they are planning to make the long drive home tomorrow.

They had no tickets for the game.

Máire said: “It was a 15 hour trip including three hours of sleep. We didn't get tickets but it was completely worth it.

“We are devastated with the result but hopefully we can beat Italy and go through.”

Hope was the word on everyone's lips.

Michael O'Neill (26), from Dublin, said the team didn't let the fans down but called for a different style of football to be played in our decider against Italy.

“You can't play long balls to Shane Long and Wes Hoolahan and think its going to work.”

Oisín Ó Cuilleanáin concurred: “I think we didn't deserve to lose but what can you do. We will go hell for leather against Italy.

“Roy and Martin have to give them the absolute hairdryer treatment and hopefully we get the result against Italy. On our day we can do it.

“This is not Poznan, this is not Poland Ukraine. This is a different set-up, a different team. I'm confident that we can do it.”

Sisters Edel (27) and Niamh Scally (32) from Mullingar Westmeath watched the game with David Mahon (30) from Castleknock and Paul Kennedy (28), from Finglas.

Edel said: “It was disappointing but there is still hope.”

She added: “It wasn't a wasted trip, sure the banter was 90.”

Not all fans were so diplomatic and upbeat with their answers. Maeve Reilly (10) watched the game with her mum Anna and sister Kerry (8).

When asked what she thought of the performance, Maeve said: I was enjoying it at the start but when the first goal was scored I was a bit sad when we were losing."

Kerry had a much simpler answer: "I hated it."

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