Dublin: 19°C Thursday 24 June 2021

On Tour: The more craic we have off the pitch, the bigger spanking we get on it

Our mansk in Gdansk refused to be beaten down by a mere four goal defeat.

Image: Cian O'Callaghan

ANOTHER AMAZING DAY ended with another hugely disappointing result; there seems to be a bit of a pattern developing here – the more craic we have off the pitch, the bigger a spanking we’re getting on it. Maybe we’ll just stay in the day of the Italy game and we might get a bit of a result.

It wasn’t the biggest surprise of course, needing a result against one of the best teams in history was realistically going to require some kind of a miracle and the false optimism of the Green Army, myself included, barely covered the underlying knowledge that last night was going to be game over for Ireland’s chances of progressing to the Ukraine. So we just decided to have the biggest party of the trip so far all day long yesterday and my God my head hurts today!

Once again the thousands of Irish took over the town square with a few conductors up on the steps leading the chanting and the singing all day; the Spanish crowd in the corner completely outsang and outnumbered again.

As with Poznan, any wall or fence had a tricolour draped off it and top marks to a flag I saw yesterday which had a picture of Bishop Brennan from Father Ted on it accompanied by the slogan ‘They’re even coming from Gdansk to see the film’, a line which any fan of that masterful show will remember -the best flag of the trip so far.

As well as the colour and the chanting, the sheer randomness of some of the Irish fans is hilarious – at one stage out of nowhere a fan dressed head-to-toe in Packie Bonner’s Italia ’90 kit appeared – complete with jersey, shorts, socks, football boots, wig, gloves and ball – and was passed all the way across the square over people’s heads.

One lad near us spent the entire day drinking what appeared to be vodka out of a wellie, while again there were three or four blow-up dolls in Irish jerseys being waved about. There was also a fair few locals who were out in the square for the day soaking it all up, keen to get involved in the session and being thrilled when the inevitable ‘Polska for the Boys in Green’ chant went up.

With this much drinking done by that many people you would think, as with any collection of blokes boozed-up, that it would lead to a few scraps but there’s a code with the Green Army that you’re representing the country so you always put your best foot forward. One fight broke out down the square, two lads with too much drink on board and the whole crowd started booing them until they stopped and shook hands!

The atmosphere on the way to, and inside the stadium itself was electric and if we were going down, we were going down singing – apart from the discovery that the pints we’d been guzzling down at inflated prices in the stadiums over here were actually non-alcoholic, and the 4-0 drubbing, it was a wonderful experience with the fans’ rendition of ‘The Fields of Athenry’ for the last ten minutes making the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

I’ve no idea how it looked on television or how it was received back home but we sang our hearts out and the players gave their all. It was accepted by all the fans with good grace – well apart from one clown ranting on in the stadium about the players not showing enough passion for the shirt and blaming our defeat by the reigning European and World champions on this fact as he reckoned it was only “11 players against 11 and the Spanish just tried harder”.

Afterwards, the disappointment of the result was put to one side and we headed back into the town square after, in the lashings of rain, and sang up for the Boys in Green once more.

On we go for the Italy game, surely this will be our big one.

Slideshow: Twitter pays its respects to Irish supporters

VIDEO: Ireland fans sing The Fields of Athenry in Gdansk

About the author:

Cian O'Callaghan

Read next: