Monday 23 October 2017

Bus strike can't stop Green Army - but serious injury dents atmosphere

Sarah Gallagher, Sam Gallagher, James Conway, Eoin O’Grady and Mark Davenport Photo: Douglas O’Connor
Sarah Gallagher, Sam Gallagher, James Conway, Eoin O’Grady and Mark Davenport Photo: Douglas O’Connor

Ryan Nugent

Bus strikes? If you think that was going to stop the Green Army from bursting a lung at Lansdowne Road, as Roy Keane might say, you are sadly mistaken.

Sadly, despite the fans' passion and heat, the horror challenge on captain Seamus Coleman put a real dampener on a cold night in the capital.

The challenge saw culprit Neil Taylor attempting to apologise to the Irish management team. Predictably, it didn't cut any ice with Keane.

And now Ireland must play the waiting game with everything crossed for the Donegal man that Ireland know they can't do without.

Beforehand, the mood was buoyant.

Our soccer fans - lauded for their noise in Paris, Lille and the like - were not going to sit back and let the rugby crowd take all the plaudits after being praised for the atmosphere during the Six Nations clash with England last weekend.

Conal (9), Aidan (6), and Senan Doohan (11), from the Navan Road, Dublin Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Conal (9), Aidan (6), and Senan Doohan (11), from the Navan Road, Dublin Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

As Dave Butler (33), from Donabate, Dublin, said, everything was set up for a wall of noise in the stand behind Ireland goalie Darren Randolph.

"I was only saying to the lads - there's four or five of us who are season ticket holders for a couple of years - we haven't had a night like this outside of the Germany game, but that one was only after the fact," he said.

"We haven't had a night like this before the game where there was that belief that we were going to go and do it, that it was really big.

"It has everything, Friday night, under lights, the sun was out all day, everybody is on the sauce and the craic is 90," he added.

The match held that much sway over people's plans that one woman managed to swing a half-day off work to make it to the game - she was travelling from London.

It was the obvious thing to do, Sarah Gallagher (27), from Glasnevin, Dublin, explained.

Boys in green Shay Looney and Adam Leahy Picture: Doug O'Connor
Boys in green Shay Looney and Adam Leahy Picture: Doug O'Connor

"Why wouldn't you? I got a half day, got a flight at half three from London, I'm a big fan," she said.

"I was in Paris at the Euros as well. It's not the same on the telly, you have to be watching it with your own, you can't be looking at it in some English pub."

Flights from London might have been easier to come by than transport from the country this weekend, with Bus Éireann currently on an all-out strike.

The strike action caused some confusion among Welsh fans who crowded onto the Dart and counted stops as they tried to navigate their way to the grounds.

Tracks

Some may have found themselves in Howth as kick-off loomed, one Irish fan noted to his child.

"They're on the wrong side of the tracks, the Welsh," he laughed.

Meanwhile, his son wanted to know how this derby compared to the other teams from the UK.

"What's our relationship like with Wales? We both hate England, I guess," he smiled.

As far as the Green Army was concerned, those from down south - Cork, Kerry and Tipp - were more visible than the Dubs this time around.

John Cremins, from Tipperary town, took the car.

"There's a big buzz about the place, it's been building since this morning," he said.

"It's the first time in a while that we've had something like this, with the atmosphere going all day.

"It's a combination of a lot of things, particularly with Wales being our near neighbours. I go to all the games, I'm from Tipperary. It's not too bad, about two hours, I drove up."

Atmosphere

Of course, an addition to the atmosphere came from the sheer emotion experienced by Irish football supporters this week, with the tragic passing of Derry City captain Ryan McBride.

A minute's applause pre-match was followed by a deafening tribute in the fifth minute in reference to McBride's shirt number - a figure also on the back of the green jersey of James McClean (pictured before with daughter Allie-Mae) in memory of his good pal.

Irish Independent

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