Saturday 21 April 2018

'We're not going to allow terror threat ruin the experience'

Graham Clifford talks to the fans who are making the Euros a family affair

Counting the days: Martin and Cian Prendergast.
Counting the days: Martin and Cian Prendergast.
Excited: Donal, Martha and Claudia Cheshire.

Graham Clifford

'I work too hard to allow terrorists to prevent my family from living our lives," says Donal Cheshire, a ­production supervisor at a medical company who lives outside Athenry in Galway.

He, his wife Martha, a psychiatric nurse, and five-year-old daughter Claudia will travel to Bordeaux in June to watch the Republic of Ireland take on Belgium. And Donal also plans to watch the Boys in Green against Sweden in our group opener at the Stade de France.

The family is understandably excited by the summer adventure and while Donal realises security will be tight in France, he believes it won't impinge on the enjoyment of the Championships for Irish supporters.

"Of course the dynamic will be different because of the increased security but we've no problem with that," explains Donal. "We'll get to the stadium early and soak in the atmosphere. It will take additional time to get into the ground but that's what you want to see isn't it? Increased vigilance. We're there to enjoy it as a family and while we'll be cautious, we're not going to allow anything to ruin the experience. You could have terrorist attacks in Dublin or even here in Galway - but it doesn't mean the fear of it happening stops you from living your life. You can't allow that fear dictate what you do. It'll be the trip of a lifetime - especially if we pick up the points."

For five-year-old Claudia, the trip to Euro 2016 is a dream come true. "We're members of the Western branch of the Republic of Ireland supporters club and so travel to lots of games with Claudia. And against Georgia in the qualifiers she actually carried the flag out on to the pitch at the Aviva. She loves it and the buzz of following the team as a family is something else," says her dad.

In North London, four-year-old Cian Prendergast is fast becoming an experienced Republic of Ireland supporter.

"He's a season ticket holder at the Aviva and went to his first game when he was just six months old in May 2012 - a friendly against Bosnia at home. Cian is going to the games against Sweden and Italy at the Euros, and both he and I can't wait," explains his father Martin, whose family comes from Kilkenny.

While Cian needs his own match tickets, he usually sits on his father's lap to get the best view.

Martin is the secretary of the Republic of Ireland supporters club in London and told Review that he's not overly concerned with security risks in France this summer.

"Obviously when you travel to games with a child so young, you have to be cautious anyway and keep your eyes open - which I do. Because our supporters club is fairly big, we tend to go to games in large groups of members who look out for each other.

"I trust that the French police and Uefa will make sure we're safe over there - I'm sure things will be fine. Cian and I are counting down the days now, bring it on," says Martin.

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