Belfast Telegraph

Spirits can't be dampened

By Ian Cahoon

Not even the continuous downpours could dampen the atmosphere inside a packed Windsor Park on Saturday night.

There was plenty 'will it, won't it' regarding the match actually going ahead as the crowds packed into the old south-Belfast venue for the last home game of this qualifying campaign.

However, there was no doubt whatsoever about the buoyant mood as they poured out just two hours later.

Andrew Carson from Dunmurry said: "It's just unbelievable. I was with people who go over to watch Arsenal and I think the atmosphere here beats anything at the Emirates or Highbury.

"The pitch was fairly ropey in the first 20 minutes, but after that it was fine and David Healy strikes again, he's a genius."

You could be forgiven for thinking all of those in attendance have had a taste of the big night atmospheres at Windsor Park, however Carol Annesley from Glengormley proved that's not the case.

"That was the first game I'd been to. I won the tickets and the atmosphere at the game was so much better than you imagine on TV," she revealed.

"The tickets are pretty hard to get your hands on and now you can see why. We'd heard the game was in big danger of being called off and I think it's safe to say now everyone was pretty glad that it wasn't.

"David Healy's goal was good enough to win any game, though we earned a bit of luck in a nerve-raking final few minutes, but it has been a brilliant night out."

East-Belfast man Harry Simpson felt the proverbial '12th man' in the stands helped the players through the difficult conditions.

He said: "I was so pleased with how the players came back from a goal down and how they dealt with the conditions as well, it showed a lot of character.

"I actually didn't think at the start that the game should have got underway, but they adapted really well as the game went on.

"The crowd, I thought, were brilliant as well. They lifted the whole place and lifted the team even at a goal down. Usually it would go a bit flat, but they lifted the players and they responded to that, so I'm delighted."

Aside from keeping our hopes alive for Euro 2008 Larne fan Andrew Scullion is delighted that Saturday's result has secured at least third place in this qualifying group.

He added: "It was yet another big performance at Windsor and a very important win.

"It keeps our slim qualification hopes alive, but equally as importantly it clinches third place in the group which will hopefully improve our chances for the World Cup."

Belfast Telegraph


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