Tuesday 21 November 2017

Irish fans delighted as Tallinn-ted lads do us all proud

Victorious armies of green now fix their sights on Poland

a group of Ireland fans in Tallinn for
the Euro2012 play-off game
a group of Ireland fans in Tallinn for the Euro2012 play-off game
James O'Neill of Waterford with Estonian supporters liis Nemvatts, right, and Liina Nemvaus, outside the arena in Tallinn before the European championship play-off last night
David Palmer, Keith Whelan and Tom and Aiden Leacy, all of Dublin, show their support for the boys in green outside the arena. Photo: DAMIEN EAGERS
Brian Culligan, Paul Bassett and Colly Egan
Shane Flaherty with Estonian fan Stiven Saukas
Rachel Butler and sister Nadia.

Mark Hilliard

EUPHORIA. Deliverance. Call it what you will, thousands of Irish fans felt its full effects in Estonia last night. With four goals in the net, Ireland moved to within touching distance of qualification for Euro 2012. It's so close now, we can almost smell it.

"Get the camper vans ready," announced 25-year-old Cathal Carroll from Dundrum in Dublin, as the Irish hoards fixed their sights on Poland.

Tallinn filled up last night as the victorious armies of green returned from the stadium and descended on the central square they had occupied for the last few days.

"I have never been so happy in my life, I have had kids but nothing compares to that," said John Treanor (25), from Raheny. "It's the best result in the world."

Well over a thousand people crammed into the city's Freedom Square and Taillinn was transformed into a party with patriotic song at its heart.

From the first kick of the ball the atmosphere inside the stadium was electrified, with chants of 'Ole!' filling the skies and the early omens were good.

Soon after, Ireland were a goal up, Estonia a man down and Tallinn took on a hue of green. Nobody could have foreseen 4-0.

Things took a slightly ugly turn for a while though when, after the third goal, a minority of Estonian fans began hurling glass bottles and small fireworks at the jubilant Irish fans, who appeared to do nothing to provoke the response but sing.

Allen Foxton, (36), from Bray, Co Wicklow, took a bottle directly to the head, a stunning blow that seemed to sap the atmosphere in his vicinity and which soon had his friends retreating to safer territory. The police were nowhere to be seen until it all died down.

"I was just celebrating and they just started throwing bottles," he said.

"It came from over there and just hit me in the face. I go to away games quite a lot; it was all good-humoured and everyone was enjoying themselves up to now."

For the most part, though, relations were good and the festivities carried on long into the night.

In the centre of the city, tricolours hung from the Cathedral walls and supporters filed around the Molly Malone pub in their hundreds.

Those who managed to get tickets began arriving at the A Le Coq Arena stadium about two hours before kick-off, a few kilometres from the historic city walls.

Only one thing was on their mind -- a valuable win or draw for qualification and for its deliverance from a bleak national mood.

"It's about self-respect. The problem is there's no tension or stress here -- if we drew someone else there would be, but here we expect to win," said 37-year-old Darren Delaney, from Lucan in Dublin.

"If we lose here it will be devastating."

In the end, there was no fear of that.

Irish Independent

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