Republic of Ireland news

Ireland fans prepare for summer in France despite Paris attacks

Co Fermanagh fan Micky Lavelle 

ECSTATIC Irish football fans are turning their heads to re-run a Euro Championships exodus next June, unbowed by the threat of terrorism at the tournament in France.

Inside, a minute's silence was held before kick-off, but disappointingly it was not well observed by a small minority who appeared to be among the away fans.

In the heaving bars around Dublin's Aviva stadium an air of nervous tension gave way to excited plans to relive the highs and lows of a fortnight in a campervan.

Mickey Lavelle, from Donagh in Co Fermanagh, sourced tickets for the play-off with Bosnia in Belfast and through a supporters' club in London.

But the seasoned traveller to Celtic away games revealed security at next June's tournament would not be far from fans' minds in light of the weekend's atrocities in Paris.

"There's a bit of concern in respect of that before going out, it's something you have to be mindful of but it's not putting us off travelling," he said.

"It's something fans are aware of.

"To be fair, we've our camper booked and out of a group of ten there's only one person who said they would not go but the vast majority will tell you it won't put them off."

On the approaches to the old Lansdowne, security concerns were evident with a slightly higher than normal garda presence in and around the stadium.

It is only the third time in the Republic's past that qualification for the Euros has been secured with the historic night in the hothouse of the Aviva a traditionally poor play-off record was turned on its head.

Five of seven previous attempts at making major finals via the same route ended in heartache with the most notorious happening when Thierry Henry used his hand to score in the Stade de France in 2010.

Diarmuid O'Brien, secretary of the Inishowen Football League and a positive thinking veteran of more than 25 Ireland away trips, was looking forward to dusting off his passport.

"We have never had any great bother with security at any matches... I don't think it would be high on our list," he said.

Mr O'Brien, who also coaches teams in the north-west, almost nailed it with his prediction of a 1-0 win and Jon Walters to score with his head.

He said the threat of terrorism in the aftermath of the bloodshed in Paris will play on minds but would not dictate fans' attitudes.

"It definitely would not temper our enthusiasm," he said.

"I don't think it enters the equation for Irish fans. They want good craic, they're pretty carefree and they are going for a good time.

"I don't think anything is going to prevent them travelling."

Father of two Declan Molloy, 40, a computer engineer from Kimmage in Dublin, has his plans for June made either way.

"I had my holidays all worked out to make the trip next June, but if I'm honest I'm thinking twice about it now," he said.

"I know we shouldn't be put off, that it plays into the hands of those behind the attacks, but I have to think of my wife and family too, and I know my wife would be worried.

"I'll be really gutted if I miss it, I love France anyway and was really looking forward to cheering on my own Ireland in one of my favourite countries.

"If I can't go I'll have to do with a week in the caravan in Donegal. I'll pack some French wine." 

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