Fans pay tribute to Ireland despite heartbreak

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Tears filled Irish eyes this morning as rugby fans watched their world cup dream come to an end.

The sea of green that packed New Zealand’s Wellington Regional Stadium was preparing to make the long trip home after Wales beat Ireland 22-10 in the quarter-final.

And fans watching the clash in homes and bars across Ireland hoped the disastrous early-morning result was a bad dream.

Anne Keogh, 42, from Firhouse in Tallaght, said: “I’m absolutely gutted, but the best team won.

“The boys did us proud. They lifted the country out of the recession and gave us something to talk about other than the presidential campaign.”

She was among more than 500 fans packed in to famous rugby pub, Kielys of Donnybrook, near Dublin’s Aviva stadium Early risers and all-night revellers were among the crowds queuing from 4.30am to get in to the pub – which served breakfasts and soft drinks.

The atmosphere was electric at the start of the quarter-final clash, with fans desperate for Ireland to continue its run of wins after beating the United States, Australia, Russia and Italy.

Ms Keogh, watching the game with her sister and friends, was shocked at the result.

“It was theirs to lose,” she continued.

“I feel sorry for the older ones who won’t be in a World Cup again.”

A Leinster season ticket holder, she said the highlight of the tournament was seeing fans forced to emigrate to Australia and New Zealand for work at the matches.

“It really touched my heart to see how they begged, borrowed and stole to travel to New Zealand for this from Australia,” she added.

“The Irish fans are great. The atmosphere was like the Aviva.”

Pub manager John O’Brien vowed to keep his doors open for the rest of the early world cup clashes.

“The atmosphere has been unbelievable,” he said.

“It was great. The buzz was like it was 10pm at night. It would have been unbelievable if they won.

Source: (excerpt)

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