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Saturday 20 January 2018

Almost goodnight Vienna...then Jon wakes things up

Eoin Manning, left, and Sean Gaffy, from Athlone, with Austrian fans Siggi Griesser and
Karl Zeies
Eoin Manning, left, and Sean Gaffy, from Athlone, with Austrian fans Siggi Griesser and Karl Zeies

Ryan Nugent

IT was almost goodnight Vienna at the Aviva Stadium, only for Jon Walters to ensure that while Ireland may have lost some of the early battles, they managed to draw the war.

It looked as if Roy Keane's rallying call to the troops had fallen on deaf ears until the 85th minute, when the old Lansdowne roar reverberated around Dublin 4.

Then all hell broke loose - a disallowed goal, a penalty claim, though fortune did not shine on the Boys in Green.

Keano had insisted his and Martin O'Neill's charges were going to throw the kitchen sink at their opponents - but for the first 45 minutes it seemed as if they had left it at home.

The supporters remembered to bring their voices though, and while the players might have been slow to start, the fans certainly were not caught napping.

Though when the Austrians scored shortly after the half-hour mark, those behind Darren Randolph quietened down a little...just a little.

Aisling Rabbitt, from Abbeylara in Longford
Aisling Rabbitt, from Abbeylara in Longford

The dire first half should have been expected though, according to some.

The concierge on the lift in the Aviva certainly thought so.

When asking how the game was going, he got a response of "that was bloody brutal" from those making their way downstairs at the interval.

"Ah, it'll get better in the second half, it always does...well, it'll have to won't it?" he asked.

Dublin footballer Diarmuid Connolly. Photos: Damien Eagers
Dublin footballer Diarmuid Connolly. Photos: Damien Eagers

It did, thankfully, with almost no reward.

The crowd didn't give up, they never planned to.

"We'll have to keep on shouting," said one supporter pre-match in response to Keane's battle cry on Friday.

Carol O'Brien, from Westport, was with her son Jack Colleran (8), who was turning out for his first ever Ireland match - having travelled up yesterday morning.

Carol was just glad she got any chat out of the way pre-match.

"I won't be able to talk after this game, my voice will be gone," she said.

This opinion was echoed by Eoin Lynch (24), from Rathmines, who said there was a definite spring in the step of Ireland fans following last summer's heroics in France.

The 'believe' banner above the singing section in the stadium wasn't just there for show.

"The fans have really found their voice in the last year or so since the Euros, and they definitely give the team the boost they need," Eoin insisted.

He took in the game with another international match debutant, his girlfriend, Paula Monsalva (26) from Venezuela.

She even donned the green jersey over her national side's kit of course - after the South Americans were narrowly beaten by England in the under-20 World Cup Final earlier in the day.

"This morning I woke up and ran to my friend's house to watch the Venezuela match, but we lost," she said, explaining that a win was expected from Ireland to soften the blow.

A late equaliser might have done the trick. Meanwhile, away from the football, a much tighter security operation was in place around Ballsbridge, as gardaí and the FAI took extra measures as a precaution against any potential acts of terrorism.

This meant a strict 'no bags allowed' policy - resulting in backpacks being left at corners, bushes and bins for supporters making a dash to get in for kick off.

Though local hotels and pubs were on hand to facilitate those who needed them kept somewhere safe.

Ciaran Nolan, from Drumcondra, was going through security with his nephew, Aaron (14) - grandson of Ireland under 21 manager, Noel King - when they were told that Aaron would not be allowed keep his bag.

"We got a lift in here and he was meant to leave the bag in the car, but he brought it with him, so we walked up and got told about the no-bag policy, so we had to go hide it in the bush," Ciaran explained.

Meanwhile, Kerry couple Shane O'Connell (19) and Caitriona Collins (18) were facilitated by Slattery's pub with their bag.

"It's a very good idea, we agree with it. We don't want anything happening here in Ireland, so it was no bother," Shane said.

Irish Independent

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