Ireland v Gibraltar: 'It’s the start of a new era,' say delighted fans as they cheer on the Boys in Green
The sun was beating down on thousands of wildly-excited football fans determined to make the Ireland v Gibraltar clash a game to remember.
Lansdowne Road and surrounding streets were awash with a sea of green, white and orange, with supporters from every corner of the country showing their support before Ireland’s 2-0 win.
Ronan Califf struggled to keep up with his daughters - Maija (9) and Rosie (7) - who were determined not to miss a second of their first-ever match.
"I’m trying to make today into a very special occasion," said Mr Califf, from Kingscourt, Co Cavan.
"We’re blessed with the weather, and it would be great to see the girls develop a passion for football. They’re so excited to be at the Aviva and are just hoping to see a few goals," he said.
Keith Power, from Ballsbridge, Co Dublin, was eager to immerse his daughter Jessica (7) in all things Irish since his family'a return from Australia six months ago.
"Jessica was born in Sydney, so I’m trying to give her a crash course in football and everything else," he said.
"I’m not sure if she will instantly fall in love with the game, but it’s her first match so it will be a very memorable day, nonetheless," he said.
One young lad who needed no crash course in football was Calum Sherry (11) from Monaghan.
Callum, who plays underage with Monaghan United, was particularly looking forward to seeing Shane Duffy play.
"Duffy is my favourite player, because I think he has great skill and is fearless whenever he has the ball," he said.
"My dad takes me to all the matches, and I wouldn’t miss them for anything."
The Farrelly family from Kells, Co Meath, strolled confidentially up Lansdown Road, eagerly anticipating an Ireland win.
Three generations of the family were at the Aviva, not only to support the Boys in Green, but to represent their beloved club - Kells Blackwater FC.
"I believe there’s so much more passion with Mick McCarthy as manager," said father-of-three Fergal Farrelly.
"The team just look like they’re enjoying themselves so much more on the pitch. I think it’s the start of a new era."
Perhaps the biggest Ireland supporter attending the game was Joe McDermott (78), who hasn’t missed a match since the 1950s.
Mr McDermott, from Gorey, Co Wexford, is a familiar figure in his slouch hat covered in handstitched emblems that he’s collected down through the years.
"I’ve had so many great memories supporting Ireland. And I love travelling to the away-games, especially when we make it to the World Cup," he said.
"My daughter, Karen, kindly gave me tickets for tonight’s match as a Father’s Day present and I’m delighted that she’s here alongside me to cheer on the lads," he said.