Belfast Telegraph

Ireland fans will be giving no quarter in World Cup showdown

By Lesley Houston

Hundreds of Ireland rugby fans were today preparing to converge on Wales' Millennium Stadium for tomorrow's crunch World Cup quarter-final match with Argentina.

As Joe Schmidt's men were finalising their plan of attack against their Puma rivals, fans were arriving in Cardiff - and hopefully bringing the luck of the Irish with them.

Those lucky enough to have tickets for Ireland's bid to win the Rugby World Cup were part of a massive weekend of rugby involving 300,000 spectators, eight teams and four crucial matches.

And though a few tickets are still available, fans would need either a private plane or boat to get there as today's flights to Cardiff, or to other popular accessible routes, via Bristol and Birmingham, were all full and due to depart before 11am carrying close to 400 passengers.

Here in Northern Ireland, while most fans will be singing from the same hymn sheet in support of Ireland, one Belfast man admits to having divided loyalties.

Pedro Donald, of the Sunflower bar in Belfast, does support Ireland - but he also supports his 'national' team, Argentina.

Born in the South American country due to his father's work placement at the time, he had an Argentinian passport in his earliest years.

"I think Ireland can maybe go on to win, so I'll probably be supporting them, but if I thought Argentina could win I'd be supporting them.

Just back from a 50th birthday visit to his home country, he said: "Of course, I told them in Argentina I'd be supporting them."

He added that he expected a number of Argentinians to come to watch the match at his pub where it is being televised. "The staff will all be here watching it too, of course, and they'll be teasing the life out of me."

One of Northern Ireland's growing league of women rugby players, Pauline McFerran (32), from Carrickfergus, said she believed the team would "come out fighting" despite Paul O'Connell's being ruled out through injury and Sean O'Brien suspended.

Shauna Kavanagh (46), also from Carrickfergus, will be sitting on tenterhooks at home with her family. "I'll be watching with hubby Brian and my eldest Matt and his fiancee Jaimie and the hubby is under instructions to have brunch ready for 12.30pm, so we can sit down for kick off at 1pm. We'll be doing a lot of shouting and trying not to scare the dog too much!"

Belfast Telegraph


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