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Honour the Lord then worship my team...


Northern Ireland fans Jodie and Philip O’Brien

Northern Ireland fans Jodie and Philip O’Brien

?William Cherry / Presseye

Northern Ireland fans Jodie and Philip O’Brien

Football fan Jacqueline King went to her church in Londonderry yesterday morning as she always does every Sunday. Religiously.

But only minutes after leaving All Saints Parish Church at Clooney she did something she's never done before.

For the first time in her life Jacqueline got ready to go to watch a Northern Ireland football match in Belfast.

On a Sunday.

And while her heroes have played games away from home before, it was the first time they'd ever taken part in a match at Windsor Park.

And Jacqueline didn't believe she was any less a Christian for what she was doing.

Standing opposite a protest by Free Presbyterians in Donegall Avenue near Windsor Park, she said: "I enjoyed the Palm Sunday service. We even had a real donkey in the church to add to the authenticity.

"And then we travelled down to Belfast for the game. It's not conflicting in any way with my religious beliefs."

Her husband Russell added: "I think we have moved on. Each to their own. We are going to the match and if they want to protest, that's OK too."

A fan from Coleraine, Roy Elliott, said he had also been at church before going to the match.

"They are totally justified in having their demonstrations here. I don't particularly agree with the match being played on a Sunday but Uefa have made the decision to spread the games out over the week and that's the day that came our way." he said.

"And I'm not going to miss the match, no matter what anyone says. It's all about personal choice and personal conscience. Mine is totally clear."

One Northern Ireland fan who refused to give his name shouted sarcastically at the protestors. He screamed "Hallelujah. Praise the Lord" before he burst mockingly into a hymn, adding: "Sport and religion don't mix just as sport and politics don't mix."

A friend dragged the fan away before confiding: "The spirit in him definitely isn't the holy one."

Belfast Telegraph