Euro 2012: Not even a prayer but fans are still on the ball
The match may be a dead rubber, but the majority of the estimated 35,000 irish fans still in Poland are expected to descend on Poznan for Ireland's final Euro 2012 game against Italy tonight.
And what Fr Zjgmuni Waz would have paid to attract even a small fraction of such a crowd.
Fr Waz was giving a special Sunday service for the Irish at one of Poznan's many campsites.
The surreal mass was almost the polar opposite of last night's climax to the Eucharistic Congress in Croke Park, attended by over 80,000 people.
Fr Waz had to make do with a hall table thrown up at one end of a tiny astro-turf pitch and the organisers obviously did not expect much of a crowd, since the only seating provided was a solitary park bench.
Around 10 people attended, about half of them Irish, including the Moore brothers from Derry.
Understandably, Fr Waz was a little disappointed.
"Of course, I expected more but every man is important," he said afterwards.
"I hope the football match will be good and Ireland play nice," he told the devoted few. "They always play nice" -- a debatable statement -- "but I think they need more happiness."
Back in the city centre, fans began to trickle back from Gdansk, and Giovanni Trapattoni's interpreter, Manuela Spinelli, was judging a keepy-uppey contest for radio station 2FM.
Top prize was a pair of tickets for the Italy match. And the winner -- 26-year-old Martin Sullivan from Naas, Co Kildare-- triumphed with the mighty total of eight keepy-uppeys. Yes, eight. A talented bunch, we Irish.
Manuela said she has enjoyed the atmosphere of the tournament, but enjoying it more than most is Killian Phair (26) from Cavan, who bought tickets off a Spanish man for the Spain game.
He and his pals ended up in the Spanish end, and at the end of the game captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas first threw his gloves and then his jersey into the crowd -- and the jersey floated straight into Killian's hands.
Immediately thinking he was going to be set upon by jealous Spaniards, he stuffed the jersey up his top.
But the Spanish around him merely came over and shook his hand and the jersey is in pristine condition, with just one tiny grass stain. Unsurprisingly, since Spain tonked Ireland 4-0.
"Not a bead of sweat on it either," laughed Killian.