Tuesday 20 March 2018

Euro 2012: Irish fan in coma after car crash on way to finals

AN Irish fan is in a coma after an accident in Amsterdam en route to Euro 2012.

The young man from Ireland went missing in the Dutch city at the weekend on his way to Poland and was later pulled from a canal.

Some of the man's relatives have travelled to the Dutch city to be at his bedside.

Elsewhere, two Irish fans were arrested yesterday in Poznan over vandalism when partying got out of control and one man was detained after being stopped drink driving.

There have been no reports of Irish fans involved in any fighting while there have been less than 20 incidents of lost or stolen passports and many reports of petty theft and pick pocketing.

One man went missing for two days in Poznan and consular staff assisted his father who travelled out to try to find him.

It is understood the man got lost, had been drinking heavily, failed to get in contact with home and sparked concerns for his welfare.

The journey to Gdansk continued this morning as Irish campervans rolled out of Torun, where they stopped off last night after leaving Poznan.

Torun really laid it on for the visiting Irish, and the town is hosting an Irish day at the end of the week with a football tournament among the activities planned.

Members of the 'You Boys In Green' fan group have made the city their base for the entire tournament, travelling to Poznan and Gdansk to the matches.

Torun is cheap when compared with other cities, with a berth for a campervan in a campsite costing as little as €10, with beer cheaper than elsewhere too.

It's also beautiful, sitting on the banks of the Vistula river

Alan Healy and his son Georgie (8), from York Street in Dublin, also pulled into Torun last night - not that they meant to ever arrive here.

"We were supposed to be in Gdansk but we took a wrong turn somewhere along the way," said Alan.

Meanwhile in Sopot where the Irish team is based, thousands of supporters began descending from southern parts of Poland.

Niall "Gooch" Barry, 20, with his friends from Clontarf in Dublin, including Cillian Carroll, 21, Mark MacNamee, 20 and Cian Buckley, 21, arrived in the Baltic resort just after the Irish team did an impromptu walkabout.

"I lost my phone so tell my ma I'm still alive," he said.

And confident ahead of the Spain game, he added: "We've pulled it off before and we'll pull it off again. The atmosphere is going to be great no matter what the result is, sure that's what we're here for."

The gang had budgeted for 50 euro (£40) a day as they mix Euro2012 with interrailing.

Mr Buckley, 21, said he fell in love a half hour earlier in McDonald's and the woman of his dreams walked him to the pier in Sopot, the longest wooden design of its kind in Europe.

"It's just living rough that's all but it's worth it," he said.

In the Irish camp, defender Sean St Ledger helped one fan from Sunday's match become a viral sensation via Twitter after he was pictured getting close to a female Croatia fan.

Two women had bared their breasts in the stands after a goal only for the fan, named as Eamon Keegan on the social networking website, to literally seize an opportunity.

On the back of the arrests in Poznan, consular staff urged Irish fans to obey the rules of the road while travelling north to Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia.

"We would encourage people who are making the journey to be very conscious of drink driving. There is zero tolerance to drink driving. Either use a designated driver or leave a long time to recover a spokeswoman said.

Fines for the offence range for 500 to 2000 Zloty, roughly 500 euro (£400) for the maximum.

Yesterday President Michael D Higgins has urged Irish fans to keep singing despite the devastating opening to the Euro 2012 campaign.

In an upbeat mood while meeting fans in the old market square in Poznan, the President said he enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere created by the 30,000-strong green army.

"The singing was great before -- and even better then after," he said.

"The fans were fantastic last night and I want them all to keep singing."

Meanwhile, one Irish fan travelled to Poland on his wife's passport by mistake, only to be refused entry by immigration officers.

When the blunder was spotted by Polish police, the man rang his wife, who rushed to a garda station to have his correct travel documents scanned and sent to the airport.

A massive 32,000 strong green army is invading Gdansk for Ireland’s second game against Spain on Thursday.

And it emerged today that Ireland’s losing clash against Croatia was the most watched sports event since the 1994 World Cup.

An average of 1.23m people tuned in for last Sunday’s game.

As the nation put the disappointment of defeat behind us, all roads yesterday and today lead to the Polish city.

Although the pot at the bookies is not expected to be as large for the second of Ireland’s three games.

Up to €20m was lost by punters who had banked on a win or draw against Croatia – rather than the crushing 3-1 defeat.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s print edition of the Irish Independent for Fiach Kelly's exclusive diary with the Irish fans in Poland

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