Friday 22 March 2019

WATCH: Young Irish super fan (6) flies to Italy with his rugby heroes

Emmet O'Neill from Co Monaghan with his rugby hero Johnny Sexton.
Emmet O'Neill from Co Monaghan with his rugby hero Johnny Sexton.

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

A young Irish boy was invited to fly to Rome this weekend with his rugby heroes as they prepare to take on Italy in the Six Nations.

Emmet O'Neill (6) from Co Monaghan caught the attention of the Irish public when he sang along to Ireland’s call at his first rugby game in November, and seeing the heart-warming video, Aer Lingus invited him to fly to Rome with the team.

The trip was kept as a surprise to Emmet who was greeted by Conor Murray at the airport.

Emmet was born with glaucoma, which left him blind in one eye and he was later diagnosed with autism.

“Emmet’s on cloud nine. He’s having a ball and he’s very emotional," his aunt Carol Kelly said.

“He’s been a massive rugby fan since he was about two but he was born with glaucoma which resulted in him losing sight in his left eye and then after that he was diagnosed with autism."

Emmet has remained with the Irish team since he arrived at the airport and will accompany them to their Six Nations match against Italy on Sunday.

While he was stunned to be greeted by Conor Murray in the airport, there was only one player Emmet was interested in.

Emmet O'Neill (6) from Co Monaghan was chosen by Aer Lingus to fly with the rugby team this weekend.
Emmet O'Neill (6) from Co Monaghan was chosen by Aer Lingus to fly with the rugby team this weekend.

“So Emmet thought he was going away on his wee holidays. He didn’t realise that he was actually going to be flying with the Irish team so it was a big surprise for him,” Carol said.

“So then he was approached by Conor Murray at the airport where he was kind of shocked when he saw him even though he was asking Conor where was Johnny Sexton, he was more interested in Sexton.

“He was just in shock. He was taken on the plane by the pilot and he was greeting all of the Irish players coming on. He was sitting with them and they got him a jersey and signed it for him.”

An Aer Lingus spokesperson said: "As the airline partner to the IRFU, Aer Lingus brings Home Advantage to the Boys in Green wherever they play and there is no greater fan and supporter than 6 year old Emmet from Emyvale, Co. Monaghan.

Emmet O'Neill (6) from Co Monaghan was chosen by Aer Lingus to fly with the rugby team this weekend.
Emmet O'Neill (6) from Co Monaghan was chosen by Aer Lingus to fly with the rugby team this weekend.

"Flying on Aer Lingus flight EI406 to Rome, Emmet had the chance to meet Joe Schmidt and his team plus his all-time favourite players Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray as they boarded ‘Green Spirit’ in Dublin Airport.

"He is sure to be belting out his favourite song ‘Ireland’s Call’ as Ireland go for another Six Nations win."

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