Scores of Laois people are among the thousands that have made the pilgrimage to Poland to see Trap’s army in action.
From early last week, people began making their way from the four corners of the county to Poznan, the first stop for the Irish football team, who were beaten 3-1 by Croatia on Sunday night. Timahoe’s Roghan Headen has already bumped into a few of the locals since he arrived.
“There are a few from Killeshin here with a van too, and Jamie Moran from Graiguecullen who was on the Apprentice. I also met Nicole Dunphy from Mountmellick who works with the FAI and a few other faces. I’d know a lot of others from Stradbally and Crettyard who have come out but I haven’t met them yet,” he said.
But the disappointing results have done little to dampen the spirits of the Timahoe notes correspondent, who arrived in Poznan in the early hours of Saturday morning.
“I hope now that the team can go on to draw with Spain and then beat Italy in the last game in the group and hopefully qualify for the knock out stages. The atmosphere in the stadium last night was brilliant, the Irish outnumbered the Croatians by 3 to 1. Despite the result, the supporters were still really proud of the team and remained on in the stadium singing after the game.
“A few of the players came out and applauded the fans. I hope now that they can be inspired for the Spain game by the support they got from the fans last night.”
Roghan, his girlfriend Aisling Malone and their friends Lynda and Emmett Pine from County Clare travelled to Poland in a camper van which Roghan bought especially for the trip.
“I just had a notion to drive, I’d always wanted to drive across Europe anyway. I sold a trip to the championships that I had won in work and bought the campervan. You can book into a hotel any night of the week. The van is well kitted out, we’ve a kettle, toaster and George Foreman and a TV to watch some of the other matches on.”
But it hasn’t been all plain sailing for the crew.
“We weren’t as far as Kilcullen when the wipers went on the van and the indicators had gone before we reached Dublin too. We’re hoping it will get us back to Ireland next week. But sure if it doesn’t there’s always Ryanair.”
Having travelled all over Europe during the qualifying campaign, Paddy Lalor from Ballyroan and his girlfriend Eilish Fitzptarick from Portlaoise were looking forward to heading to Poland last week.
“I’ve been to all the qualifying matches for the Euro’s both home and away this year, and as long as the Irish are involved in the competition, I’ll be there,” he said.
Like Roghan, Paddy was also optimistic about Ireland’s chances of getting past the group stages.
“This was one of their most successful qualifying campaigns, they only succeeded one goal. They’re much stronger on the road too.”