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Artist jumps at chance to capture clash on canvas

AN artist will bring his brush and easel to record the Republic of Ireland Euro 2012 qualifier against Russia at the Aviva Stadium tonight.

Michael Hanrahan is the first painter to be invited by the FAI to immortalise a football international on canvas.

"A photograph can get lost or taken down whereas a good oil painting lasts for generations," the artist said.

For the 58-year-old soccer fan, the invitation from the FAI is a dream come true.

"I'm travelling up from my home in Clare for the match but I'd have travelled from Nova Scotia. Getting into the stadium with my easel and paints to capture an Ireland game, it's like offering a golfer a round with Tiger Woods," Mr Hanrahan said.

The Lahinch-based painter was invited to the international after an FAI contact saw an exhibition of his work in Ennistymon, Co Clare.


"The FAI told me they've had lots of photographers into the new Aviva Stadium but not an artist. They've been fantastic and given me an 'all access pass' to do my work as long as I don't obstruct the view of the public," he added.

This will be the second major sporting event Mr Hanrahan has captured on canvas in recent weeks, having been given permission by the GAA to paint this year's All Ireland Hurling Final.

"I got three canvases done. You couldn't but be inspired by the 82,000 people in Croke Park that day or the performance of the teams," he said.

It's a long way from the father of four's previous job as manager of the AIB bank in Celbridge, Co Kildare, and from which he took early retirement four years ago to become a full-time artist.

Mr Hanrahan first approached the GAA just before the end of August with the idea of painting the All Ireland Hurling Final.

"They have been kind enough to let me keep the pictures," he said. "The only thing they asked was that I show them the work first.

"I gave them a private viewing last Tuesday in Croke Park where they complimented me on the paintings." The hurling paintings are currently in his studio in Ennistymon.

Irish Independent