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Fans feel the pain in Spain

By Will Ellison

An estimated 10,000 Northern Ireland supports travelled to Gran Canaria for last night's crunch clash with Spain.

And despite Nigel Worthington's boys suffering a one-nil defeat at Las Palmas, fans who made the trip paid tribute to the team's valiant effort.

David Kirkpatrick (34) from Ballyclare said that although he was disappointed with the result, Healy and co's performance was "immense" .

Speaking from Las Palmas last night, he said: "The referee was not very good - is that diplomatic enough? He gave us one free kick and that was it.

"The atmosphere was like the spirit of '82 and '86. The team has brought the '82 feel-good factor back again. I should know because I was there in '82."

Belfast man Alan Whiteside praised the efforts of our boys but admitted: " It's what I expected. I never really thought we would win."

The 41-year old added: "I would give the team eight out of ten, all the players did their best.

"Of course I'm sad that it has ended this way but I am delighted at the way the team has been playing and have high hopes for the future."

Simon Rea (40), who is originally from Lisburn but who is now living in Oxford, said: "We travelled more in hope that in expectation but we have had a cracking time.

"I am a little bit heartbroken after the lads worked so hard to qualify. Still, at least we are not as badly off as England."

Belfast teenager Ross Mackie (16), who also travelled to Gran Canaria for last night's match, said: "Everyone in the team played their hearts out. "

And 36-year old Sam Mitchell from Bangor, said: "The troops sang their hearts out and we will be there for the World Cup in 2010."

Belfast Telegraph


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