Northern Ireland news

Republic of Ireland fans think of travel plans

Republic of Ireland fans celebrating their place in Euro16
Marie Louise McConville

REPUBLIC of Ireland fans hit the internet in a frenzy yesterday as thoughts turned to how to follow the team to the European Championship finals in France.

Within minutes of securing the play-off victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Dublin, celebrations were being put on hold for travel plans.

Many fans spent much of yesterday surfing airline websites in an attempt to book flights before prices rocket for next June and July.

Many were also making enquiries about ferry sailings, trains and accommodation ahead of the big tournament, with supporters of Northern Ireland having already snapped up many places.

Others, however, have decided to hold off on bookings until they learn who the Republic will play and where after a draw on December 12.

Paul Loughran, secretary of the West Belfast Ireland Supporters Club, said it brought 91 people to the match in the Aviva stadium.

"The atmosphere was electric, especially when the final whistle went."

He said once it was known where the team would be based, the club would be "straight online and booking flights".

"We are waiting patiently for the draw. We're already asking members to declare their interest and then once we have that, we're in a position to start making travel arrangements".

Nolan Devlin, secretary of Derryhirk Republic of Ireland Soccer Supporters Club in Lurgan, and public relations officer for the Confederation of Republic of Ireland Supporters Clubs, also said "as a club we are just waiting for the draw" - but the travel agent would be "on standby"

"You have to be organised if you don't want pay over the odds," he said.

"It's a bit of work but you never complain. You do it for the love for it."

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