Saturday 17 August 2019

'I feel so honoured' - Teenage fan to collect Irish fans' medal from Mayor of Paris

Jamie Monaghan. Picture courtesy of family
Jamie Monaghan. Picture courtesy of family

Cathal McMahon

A football-mad teenager with a disability has been chosen to receive a medal on behalf of Irish fans at Euro 2016.

Jamie Monaghan (17) from Togher, Co Louth, has been supporting the Irish side all his life and attended all of our games at the tournament.

Philip and Annette Monaghan with their children Jamie (17) and Aoife (19) from Drogheda before Ireland's clash with Belgium.
Pic:Mark Condren
Philip and Annette Monaghan with their children Jamie (17) and Aoife (19) from Drogheda before Ireland's clash with Belgium. Pic:Mark Condren

Now can reveal that he has been chosen by the FAI to collect a medal from the mayor of Paris for supporters' exemplary behaviour at the tournament.

Speaking via email Jamie, said he was contacted by the football association in the last number of days to confirm the decision.

“I feel so honoured. I am going over to Paris on Thursday and staying over there for the night. We don't know what is happening yet until tomorrow,” he said.

"I am so honoured to have been chosen out of all the dedicated Irish fans to accept this award. Myself and my family are so proud. I hope that now I might be seen as somewhat of an ambassador for the Irish football fans and especially the fans who are in wheelchairs.

"We really are the best in the world."

Jamie explained that he has the rare condition Mosaic Trisomy 9 since birth.

“I can't walk or talk,” he wrote.

“I am a really big football fan. I support Drogheda United, Liverpool fc and Ireland. I went to all the Irish games for the euros with my dad Philip, mam Annette and sister Aoife (19)."

At the tournament Jamie encountered some difficulties and was refused entry to the Bordeaux Fanzone because of two tricolours attached to his wheelchair.

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo announced plans for the Green Army to be given the city's most prestigious award, known as the Grand Vermeil last week.

In a letter to President Michael D Higgins announcing the award, Mayor Hidalgo said that the ‘Vermilion medal of the City of Paris’ would be presented to Irish supporters of EURO 2016 for their ‘exemplary’ behaviour during the tournament, in all cities attended, ‘particularly in Paris’.

“All the Parisians, the French people and our foreign visitors who came to attend the games or simply to visit our city were charmed and impressed by their goodwill, their singing and their good humour,” said the Mayor.

“Whilst international football is sadly sometimes tarnished by incivilities, misbehaviour, even violence, the supporters of Ireland show to all, for our greater good, what supporting a country and a sport truly means.”

John Delaney, CEO of the Football Association of Ireland said that the honour was the perfect finale for what was a “great tribute to both sets of supporters”.

“For our own fans, a new generation of footballing heroes have come along for them to support with such great enthusiasm, which was witnessed in France. These fans are the greatest ambassadors that we could have and we are extremely proud of them.

“I am delighted that Jamie Monaghan will collect this award on behalf of all of our fans and I would like to remember at this time James Nolan, who tragically passed away during EURO 2012. I would also like to remember the two Northern Ireland supporters - Darren Rodgers and Robert Rainey - who died during EURO 2016.”

The honour of the Grand Vermeil de la Ville de Paris was created in 1911 to recognise individuals or groups who have made a "remarkable act on the capital".

Among the names on the roll call of the honour for the Grand Vermeil are tennis champion Rafa Nadal, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and jazz pianist Herbie Hancock.

It is not the first honour for Irish fans.

On the back of their ambassadorial performances in Poland four years ago, Uefa president Michel Platini announced a special award to Irish fans to recognise their great behaviour and contribution to the championships.

It was dedicated to the memory of James Nolan, an Irish fan who drowned in the river Brda in the town of Bydgoszcz during the competition in June 2012.

Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, and junior minister Patrick O'Donovan said they were delighted with the recognition from the mayor's office.

"Irish football supporters enjoy an enviable reputation throughout the football world," they said.

"They are famously friendly and fun-loving with an infectious passion for football and an ability to create a carnival atmosphere. They have shown themselves to be true ambassadors for Ireland during the Euro 2016 championship and this award is well deserved."

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