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Sunday 18 August 2019

Magnificent Boys in Green cruise into Euro 2016

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Fans predicted a less than exciting game - but there was never a dull moment in this crucial decider as Ireland cruised into the Euro 2016 championships with a 2-0 win at the Aviva.

Controversy, breathtaking near misses and opportunities, and spectacular goals were never too far away but it was the Irish who came away with the result that saw them through 3-1 on aggregate.

The second half saw the visitors come back into the action with as much of a vengeance as they could muster.

All in all, it was a pretty entertaining game to watch as Jon Walters scored in each half.

"Two-nil to Ireland," Brian Killeen, from Clondalkin in Dublin, had confidently predicted.

Three lads up from Shannon, Co Clare, were slightly less optimistic.

"One-nil - Jon Walters, please God," said Brian Keane.

"In the 85th minute," chimed in friend JP Buckley.

"I'm very confident since last Friday," said Brian. "I thought they were very poor."

His brother Patrick thought it might be more like two-nil to Ireland.

Leah Phillips (21), from Clarenbridge, Co Galway, with dad Paul and cousins John and Joe Reichenbach, from Salthill in Galway, were already planning on starting the savings process for the Euros.

"I think it's not going to be a very exciting game - I think Ireland will scrape through but it's not going to give us much worry," said Paul.

Leah thought the Boys in Green would have no option but to give it 100pc.

"I think being at home with all that support will make all the difference. But they can't afford to sit back," she warned.

Perennial Ireland fan Shane Peppard, from Dublin, was out in force as usual - hail, rain or snow - in green body paint, in the ultimate show of support.

"Bishop" Darren McConway and friends Gavin Fletcher and Declan Barr had travelled down from Derry to the match in anticipation of a Irish seismic victory.

"Yep, it'll be a good one," said Darren. "We'll wipe the floor with them," added Gavin cheerfully.

Niall Murphy, from Portmarnock in Dublin, had travelled to the match with friend Darragh Coates.

But Bosnian fan Victoria Colic, who is living in Ireland and had come to the match with a large group of friends, predicted that Bosnia and Herzegovina would not go down easily.

A chorus of boos echoed around the stadium as a number of errant fans from Bosnia and Herzegovina failed to observe a minute's silence in respect for those who had lost their lives in the attack in Paris.

It was poor form - and the Green Army let them know it.

As soon as the match started and Bosnia and Herzegovina got possession, the boos began again.

It wasn't just a good game by the players. The home supporters put on a dazzling display too, with the Aviva full almost to capacity.

The Green Army were on their feet for the bulk of the match, cheering and bellowing support.

A beachball was incongruously tossed through the crowd of hardcore supporters as the 'Fields of Athenry' rang out.

When at one stage a group of shirtless, dancing Bosnian fans seemed to be taking over in terms of noise levels, the Irish started up with 'Come On You Boys in Green'.

There were lots of near misses and almost-theres but finally Jon Walters took a penalty that saw the ball slip calmly into the bottom left corner. He just couldn't miss.

The Aviva erupted, every man, woman and child in the Green Army bursting into giddy, exuberant dance in the first electric display of the night.

There were more cheers when he sank the second goal in the 70th minute to seal the game.

But it was a tense wait for the final whistle.

Irish Independent

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