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Republic fans revel in Euro 2016 underdog role despite missing out on Sweden win

Published 13/06/2016

Republic of Ireland fans at The Hangar in Dublin city centre look dejected after Sweden equalize
Republic of Ireland fans at The Hangar in Dublin city centre look dejected after Sweden equalize

Stalemate in Paris sparked thoughts of what should have been, not least in the unofficial fan zone in Dublin.

Suits were swapped for football shirts as city workers sweltered alongside students in the old Andrew's Lane theatre.

And with 300 bodies packed into the venue, Galway native Chris St John bemoaned the lack of initiative by city chiefs to set up an outdoor Euro2016 fanzone.

"The City Council should have done a bit more, a bit of imagination, you could have had a big screen up, maybe Stephen's Green, it'd be nice to be outside," he said.

But, thankfully it might be said, optimism was not found wanting with him or his colleagues from the Central Bank's banking supervisory division despite the undeserved draw.

Pauric O'Brien from Templeogue in Dublin, decked out in smart shoes and slacks and an Ireland shirt beer stained by full time, epitomised that.

"You get two draws, you never know, you could make a third place, not very likely but it could happen," he said.

The watchdogs were among the last to squeeze into the Hangar venue having left their desks on nearby Dame Street at 4pm.

"We just said we're off, that was it," Mr St John said.

And they were not the only ones with every pub within a few miles of O'Connell Street heaving and some turning punters away.

In the front row seats at the unofficial fanzone were two recently qualified students.

Bradley Owens and Aaron McClean, both from Cabra, had confidently predicted a winning start to the tournament.

"I thought we were going to shut them out for 60 minutes and get a goal from an unlikely source," Mr McClean said.

Outside on Andrew's Lane a timely mural of Ireland's assistant manager Roy Keane has been painted with an alarming message.

A play on the Barack Obama "hope" portrait, it reads "can't cope".

The students, soon to be graduates in International Business with German and France, failed to make it to France due to college exams but dismissed the negativity.

"We'll beat the Belgians," Mr McClean said.

Mr Owens added: "We can draw against the Italians and four points we're through."

The pair were adamant that one of the favourites to go far in the tournament, Belgium, are not to be feared.

And they called on Ireland to thrive on the underdog status like Premier League champions Leicester City.

"Belgium are the England of 2004 - a team of individuals," Mr Owens said.

"We are dealing with a Leicester here. We are dealing with a team that's been together for two years," Mr McClean said. "And it's the year of the underdog."

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