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No trouble at England, Ireland game

The first clash between England and Ireland on Irish soil for two decades was as uneventful off the pitch as the scoreless draw itself.

After weeks of planning, a large security operation was mounted over the weekend in anticipation of the friendly match at Dublin's Aviva stadium.

The last time the old rivals met at the ground in 1995, the game was abandoned after English hooligans went on the rampage, tearing up seats and firing them on Irish fans below.

But the Garda said there were no reports of any incidents this time around.

"There is nothing to report, which is great," said a spokesman.

Around 3,000 England supporters who travelled for the match were restricted to one section of the stadium at ground level, behind the goalposts.

Despite a consensus outside afterwards that the game was dull and dreary, many fans welcomed the peaceful atmosphere, which was in stark contrast to the events 20 years ago.

Steve and Karen Ocsko, travelled to Dublin from Maidstone in Kent.

"Was there a game?" joked Steve.

"Really, it was all right, it was a friendly after all.

"This was a symbolic match from the trouble 20 years ago, so it is out of the way now, and we can all move on."

Mr Ocsko said English fans had come under severe pressure in recent weeks from "the media, the police, from everybody" to make sure the game passed off without incident.

"It's done now, we've moved on," he added.

"We've got a decent bunch of fans now, we don't get into much trouble, no more than you see on any Saturday night."

Despite the early lunchtime kick-off - chosen to lessen the chances of drunken behaviour and violence - many arrived during the morning to erect dozens of St George's Cross flags along the back of the stand.

But their efforts to kick-start the atmosphere fell flat with the poor football on display.

Brian Geddis, from Stafford, said both sides looked like they were more interested in starting their holidays, but added he was delighted there was no repeat of ugly scenes off the field.

"What happened in 1995 was dreadful," he said.

"I was quite worried that if the fans started singing particular songs it would set people off, so I'm glad they didn't because that is not on."

John Mez, from south Manchester, said: "The match was tough going, it was hard to watch but it was lovely weather and it is a lovely stadium."

Mr Mez said he was too young to remember the events of 20 years ago, but was very aware of it through the FA's campaign.

"I did see it on TV, the FA mentioned quite a lot that fans should show respect, there should be no anti-IRA chanting, stuff like that," he said.

"England fans have been made well aware of that, and I think we saw that today, in the atmosphere."

Hundreds of gardai lined the routes around the stadium, while the public order unit was put on standby.

There was also heightened security in the centre of the Irish capital over the weekend.

However the Garda said there had been no incidents related to the match.

Several roads were closed to traffic in and around the Aviva Stadium throughout the day.

Known football hooligans had been forced to hand over their passports in advance of the game.

In another move amid security cooperation between the Garda and English police, individuals who are subject to football banning orders have to sign on at a police station today.

It is the first time the measure has been deployed for four years.


From Belfast Telegraph