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Irish fans in Paris deflated after narrow defeat to France in knock-out stages

From left to right; Deirdre Ni Shuilleabhain, Edwina Stack and Claire Quiney soak up the atmosphere in the fanzone ahead of the Republic's game with France. Picture by Maeve Connolly
Maeve Connolly at the fanzone in Paris

WITHIN minutes of France beating Ireland 2-1 car fulls of French fans were driving through Paris blasting their horns, waving French flags and cheering for les bleues.

French supporters streaming out of the official fanzone on Sunday joined in celebrations so intense anyone would have thought they'd won the tournament. Or that might just be sour grapes.  

The atmosphere in the fanzone had been tense, particularly after Ireland scored, and it wasn't until France knocked in two that their fans lightened up.

It was very, very different compared to Saturday's party atmosphere when Northern Ireland took on Wales.

Ryan Brolly from Armagh was at the Ireland game with his friend Stuart MacManus from Belfast and the pair were deflated at the final whistle.

It was all going so well, up until we got beaten obviously," Ryan said.

"The French fans were very quiet for a long time until they scored and then they came to life."

Although disappointed the friends were still happy Ireland had reached the last 16 and said they'd been approached by Northern Ireland and England fans who wished them well.

Matthew O'Driscoll said he was "gutted".

"It's a real shame. It had started so well. I thought they deserved it if I'm honest with you."

The walk from the entrance of the fan zone to the first of the security checks was a long one and three Irish women kitted out in flags and wigs sang away their journey and, although heavily outnumbered, gave the French fans a run for their money.

Their repertoire included Stand Up For The Boys in Green, Allez les Verts and the crowd pleaser Go Home Tierry Henry. 

The French retaliated with Will Grigg's On Fire, Stand Up For French Police and the French national anthem.

The ladies were among the last to get through the gates before the fanzone reached capacity.

Ireland might have been beaten but their fans were not defeated.

William Grant from Ballyclare was cheering on the Republic in Paris. Picture by Maeve Connolly

William Grant from Ballyclare was cheering on Martin O'Neill's men and before the game began had a good feeling they could beat the host nation.

His trip to Paris was booked last minute and, probably like a great many other people, "after a few drinks".

"I couldn't get tickets for the first three Northern Ireland games but then they qualified and I was watching the Republic of Ireland versus Italy and thought I hope they do it, and they did.

"I'd had a few drinks and was on the internet looking for flights and hotels and one came up and boom, two days later I'm here."

William was wearing his Northern Ireland jersey and said supporting both teams was easy.

"It's not politics, it's football."

Siobhan and Andrew Glass were at Saturday's game between Northern Ireland and Wales after paying an England fan £300 for two tickets.

Andrew was so overcome with emotion at Park des Princes that he put his sunglasses on to conceal his tears.

They watched Sunday's match with other Irish supporters and Siobhan had hoped the Republic of Ireland would win one nil. Sorry Siobhan.

Eanna Kenny, a student at UCD, was hired by a bar in Paris specifically to deal with extra demand during the Euro 2016 tournament. Picture by Maeve Connolly

Corcoran's Irish Pub on Boulevard de Clichy has seen plenty of action since June 10.

It's one of a row of Irish pubs on the street and if you've followed the antics of Ireland and Northern Ireland fans you'll have seen videos of all sorts of shenanigans taking place outside it.

UCD student Eanna Kennedy is one of four barmen who were brought over especially because of the football.

On the first weekend the fans were in town the bar sold 10,000 pints.

It's unlikely they'll have sold as many on Sunday night but chances are they still served plenty of pints to Irish fans looking to drown their sorrows after that 2-1 scoreline.

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