Tuesday 22 October 2019

Fans have a ball as the boys in green tackle Gibraltar

Rosie Califf (7) and her sister Maija (9). Photo: Arthur Carron
Rosie Califf (7) and her sister Maija (9). Photo: Arthur Carron

Ian Begley at the Aviva

The sun was beating down on thousands of wildly excited football fans who were determined to make the Ireland v Gibraltar clash a night to remember.

The entire stretch of Lansdowne Road and its environs were turned into a sea of green, white and orange, with supporters from every corner of the country making their way to the Aviva Stadium before the 2-0 win.

Ronan Califf from Kingscourt, Co Cavan, struggled to keep up with his two daughters Maija (9) and Rosie (7), who were adamant not to miss a second of their first-ever match.

"I'm trying to make today into a very special occasion," said Mr Califf.

"We're blessed with the weather and it would be great to see the girls develop a new passion in football. They're so excited that to be at the Aviva and are just hoping to see a few goals."

Keith Power from Ballsbridge, Co Dublin, was determined to immerse his daughter Jessica (7) in all things Irish since his family returned from Australia six months ago.

Optimistic: Ireland fans Tracey Murtagh, John Paul Carney and Christine Cassells, all from Celbridge, Co Kildare, at the match. Photo: Arthur Carron
Optimistic: Ireland fans Tracey Murtagh, John Paul Carney and Christine Cassells, all from Celbridge, Co Kildare, at the match. Photo: Arthur Carron

"Jessica was born in Sydney so I'm trying to give her a crash course in football and everything else," he said.

"I'm not sure if she will instantly fall in love with the game, but it's her first match so it will be a very memorable day, nonetheless," he said.

One young lad who needed no crash course in football was Calum Sherry (11) from Monaghan.

A star striker for Monaghan United, he hoped that some of Shane Duffy's talent at the Aviva would rub off on him.

Joe McDermott from Wexford. Photo: Arthur Carron
Joe McDermott from Wexford. Photo: Arthur Carron

"Duffy is my favourite player because I think he has great skill and is fearless whenever he has the ball," he said.

"My dad takes me to all the matches, and I wouldn't miss them for anything."

Six members of the Farrelly family from Kells, Co Meath, strolled confidentiy up Lansdowne Road, as if Ireland had already got a win.

The family of three generations came out yesterday, not only to support the boys in green, but to represent their beloved club Kells Blackwater FC.

"I believe there's so much more passion with Mick McCarthy as manager," said father-of-three Fergal Farrelly.

"The team just look like they're enjoying themselves so much more on the pitch and I think it's the start of a new era."

Perhaps the biggest Ireland supporter attending last night's game was Joe McDermott (78), who hasn't missed a match since the 1950s.

The Gorey, Co Wexford, local was seen from far and wide donning a jacket and slouch hat full of handstitched emblems that he's collected down through the years.

"I've had so many great memories supporting Ireland and love travelling to the away games, especially when we make it to the World Cup," he said.

"My daughter Karen kindly gave me tickets for tonight's match as a Father's Day present and I'm delighted that she's here alongside me to cheer on the lads," he said.

Irish Independent

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