Belfast Telegraph

Job done: High-spirited Irish fans hail battling draw in World Cup play-off

A classic it was not, but Ireland fans were not complaining as they hailed a battling 0-0 draw with Denmark in their World Cup play-off first leg in Copenhagen.

The green and white hordes emerged from the Parken Stadium delighted with the result.

They had sung themselves hoarse throughout the tense encounter, and the consensus at the end was: job done.

David Walsh from Sligo was overjoyed with a result that really sets up Tuesday's second leg in Dublin.

"I'm very pleased with the game - it was a brilliant result," he said.

"It's probably what most people were looking for. We would have loved an away goal, but I'll take 0-0 - it was unreal.

"I love Copenhagen."

Paul O'Neill from West Meath was already looking forward to the return game.

"It's all teed up for Dublin," he said. "We'll take them in Dublin."

And as for the host city?

"The Danish are lovely people - it's like a big version of Galway."

Corkman Denis Dineen thought the result was fair.

"I'm absolutely delighted with a nil-all draw," he said.

"The first 15 minutes they could have got a goal but after that we had the game."

One teenage fan from Co Cork had extra reason to be cheerful, emerging from the ground with a match ball stuffed up his jumper.

"It got sent in from a corner from Robbie Brady and I caught it," he said, protecting his prize from the covetous eyes of fellow supporters drifting into the Copenhagen night.

Dubliner Paul Bermingham, who now lives and works in Sweden, travelled down to his Nordic neighbours without a ticket, just to sample the atmosphere in the city.

"From my point of view I love it," he said.

"I love the chance to be able to go to a match that's relatively close for an Irish fan living in Europe.

"I'm here to capture the atmosphere, watch the match on television and maybe go up to the stadium to get a programme, which would be worth a fortune to me.

"I'm happy as a bunny just to be here."

The fans congregated in pubs near the ground from early evening. One bar on the corner of the stadium was thronged three hours before kick-off, with Danes and Irish dancing and partying together long before the first whistle blew.

A few hardy Irish men defied the plunging temperatures outside to bestride the dance floor shirtless.

And this was all before a ball was kicked.

Earlier, Copenhagen was awash with green as Ireland supporters mounted a friendly invasion of the city.

The central square was taken over through Saturday, with festive shoppers getting more than they bargained for.

None more so than the patrons of a certain well-known lingerie store, who were ruing its proximity to a heaving Irish bar.

Every patron, especially those with the look of bashful husbands, received raucous cheers as they entered and exited the shop through the afternoon.

On one of the early morning flights from Dublin the optimistic captain asked whether any passengers had a spare ticket.

"Hopefully we'll do the business and you'll all be singing on the flight home," he said, during a somewhat partisan mid-flight update.

On arrival, ground staff wearing Denmark shirts, Viking horn hats and waving flags were waiting to greet the travelling fans.

Better was to come inside the terminal, with the airport authorities laying on free beer for the green and white hordes.

Among the crowds in Amagertorv Square, Bobby Cunningham from Co Donegal, who has been travelling to Ireland away games since the mid-1980s, was dreaming of a summer holiday in Russia.

"It's absolutely brilliant," he said from under his fulsome sombrero.

"We'd love to get to Russia and show Vladimir Putin what having a bit of fun and having a bit of craic is all about."

His friend Frankie Murrin heaped praise on the hosts.

"The people are unbelievable, both supporters are mixing very well - no hassle," he said.

Colin Dunn from Connemara was also keen on a Russian adventure.

"We'd round up a crew to go for the craic," he said.

Jack Maloney from Galway said the atmosphere reminded him of last year's European Championships in France.

"It's a great city, I am loving the buzz around here," he said.

"It's as beautiful as everyone said it would be.

"It's like a mini-Euros - great fun."


From Belfast Telegraph