Friday 24 November 2017

President greets Euro 2012 fans and tells them to keep singing

Ed Carty and Fiach Kelly

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.

"I just want to walk around and meet the fans. The fans were fantastic last night and I want them all to keep singing."

The President met local mayor Ryszard Grobelny at the city council offices before spending about an hour in the Museum of Musical Instruments in the Stary Rynek square.

The walkabout took place as the majority of Irish fans packed into campervans, trains, buses and planes to make the 300km journey north to Gdansk on the Baltic coast.

Meanwhile, the Department of Affairs has reported no serious incidents involving the huge numbers of travelling fans.

But one over-eager Irish fan travelled to Poland on his wife's passport by mistake only to be refused entry by immigration officers.

The man was forced to endure a nervous one-hour wait in Poznan airport after flying in from Dublin for the Ireland-Croatia match.

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.

Within an hour border control had seen the copied passport and were happy the man was who he said he was despite carrying the wrong passport.

It is understood he passed through check-in and security at Dublin Airport without anyone noticing the error.

The man declined to talk publicly about the embarrassing mistake.

Meanwhile, the exodus from Poznan began today as fans left the city after Ireland's disappointing defeat to Croatia last night.

All roads now lead to Gdansk for the second group game against Spain on Thursday night and the camper vans were already hitting the motorways at lunchtime, with Padraig Lynch from Monaghan leading the charge with his friends in a converted van.

Most fans were still trying to come to terms with the 3-1 defeat to Croatia. Rory Butler and his group of pals from Galway, Kerry and Roscommon were picking themselves up as they made their way back to their accommodation in the early hours this morning.

"Sure we know what we have to do now, beat Spain and Italy," Rory said with a wry smile.

Meanwhile, riot police briefly guarded Irish fans in the city's old town square last night amid fears they could be set upon by hooligans association with local club Lech Poznan.

A number of darkly dressed locals entered the square, smashing glasses and lighting flares.

Riot police, constantly stationed around the square, were quickly on hand to defuse the situation.

There were no Irish fans injured or arrested.

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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