Thursday 18 January 2018

Final letdown for fans as team dodge airport homecoming

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

WEARY, disappointed and dejected -- and that was just the handful of fans who had waited patiently all day to catch a glimpse of our national football team as they arrived home.

But while hundreds of travelling supporters flooded through the arrivals hall at Dublin Airport yesterday, there was no sign of the boys in green.

Giovanni Trapattoni and his players landed at 5pm and were promptly whisked away by bus through a side entrance.

It was all in sharp contrast to previous homecomings when the squad was feted by fans on an open-top bus trip into the city.

Sisters Aisling (18) and Niamh Relihan (14) from Macroom in Co Cork had kept an anxious vigil at the airport from 9.30am yesterday hoping to welcome home the team.


"We're gutted," said Niamh as she learnt they would not be greeting fans.

She had stayed up until 5.30am putting the finishing touches to two placards -- one in honour of Keith Andrews, the other for James McClean. An hour later she was heading to Dublin with her sister and their uncle John Murphy.

They were among a group of just 10 fans who had shown up to welcome the players but were ultimately left disappointed.

With no sign of the squad, it was left to WAG Claudine Keane to add some glamour to the occasion.

She arrived back with Robbie Junior shortly before 6pm and was full of praise for the Ireland fans in Poland.

"The fans were incredible. They were something else altogether, you had to be there to really actually appreciate it," she said.

And while rumours swirled about the international future of Robbie and other senior members of the squad, Mrs Keane was keeping mum.

"I'm not really going to go into everything, that's up to the boys, that's their job," she said.

Meanwhile, friends Daire Andrews, Cormac McCann and David Reilly, all 23, and Rob Garrigan (25) from Swords, Co Dublin, were still standing despite notching up little sleep.

"We were gone for five days, as you can see by my voice, it's not there anymore," laughed Daire.

They had travelled over for Ireland's matches against Spain and Italy.

"We had a great time, although it would have been nice to see a goal. We'd definitely go back. I think we did a good deal for Failte Ireland, they should pay us commission," he added.

"The fans are a bit despondent and down but we just got on with it," said Rob.

Dapper dressers Thomas Lalor (23) from Graiguecullen, Co Laois, and Collie McHale (19) from Cabra in Dublin donned neon green suits for their Polish misadventure.

"I ordered them online from Hong Kong.

"We had six suits in all but three of them are still out there in Poland," said Thomas.

And it was an emotional homecoming for Alan Corbett, from Blanchardstown in Dublin, as he was greeted by his wife Grainne and their children Oran (2) and Cara (1).

Asked how long he had been away, he replied: "Too long."

Irish Independent

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