15th May 2012
We've sifted through the entries, including loads of really strong ones, and we have a winner..... Our guest blogger for Euro 2012, heading there by InterRail to see all of Ireland's group games is.....
Gary O'Reilly from Dublin Celbridge in Co Kildare!
Well done Gary, whose blog entry "Joxer goes to Paris" is below.
Hard luck everyone else, in particular our excellent runners-up: Hugh Gallagher, Cathal Dennehy and Aidan Coffey. If we had four sets of trips, we'd love to send you all. As a small consolation prize, we'll send you each a Trekker ticket, which gives you four days unlimited travel around the Iarnród Éireann network.
Gary will be our guide to Euro 2012 here on the Railway Lines blog, and if his tale of that fateful night in Stade de France is anything to go by, reading Gary's updates will be the next best thing to being there.
JOXER GOES TO PARIS
The minute the draw was made, actually no, the second it was made, I raced onto Ryanair to get a cheap flight to Paris. They had beaten me to it. In anticipation, I had checked the day before and the flights were 60 euro – I should have taken a gamble. But I didn’t, and I was now being quoted up to 500 euro for Ryanair to blow its trumpet and dump me an hour outside Paris.
I didn’t care, I just knew I had to be at the Stade de France on Wednesday November 18th 2009. I just knew that it would be a truly historic night. However, I was in college at the time eating pot noodles, and I had seemingly been priced out of the game. Granted I didn’t go to many lectures, but I had picked up enough during my three years “studying” economics to know that my hopes of being there were slim.
But just like Joxer, I had a dream! Taking heart from Christy Moore’s anthem, I believed that I was destined for a similarly epic adventure. I weighed up every conceivable option and ended up on a 6.15 AM flight to Frankfurt on match day. €80 return – who’s the mug now I smugly asked as the trumpet rang in my ears upon reaching German soil. I thought that my plans were far fetched, but the flight to Frankfurt was a sea of green and by the time the flight attendants began their respective sales pitches, we were already screaming a team of Gary Breen’s! Virtual strangers at Dublin airport, we were now brothers in arms – Traps army. The next mission was to get to Paris.
As we all clattered and clinked the botlles of Heineken through the carriage of the Paris bound train, we quickly realised it was a Wednesday morning. The German commuters were completely perplexed. Why are these Irish people on this train? Why are they drinking at this hour? Who the Kraus is Gary Breen!? The craic was 90! In a strange way I think we were a bit disappointed when we arrived at la gare. As we descended upon the Eiffel tower, that disappointment was immediately replaced with a giddyness that I hadnt felt since the Christmas of ’93 and the sight of my Nintendo. I’m no good a judging crowd sizes, but there were millions of Irish fans in expectant mood, singing songs and drinking cheap bottles of wine.
The buzz outside the stadium was incredible. Electric. It really felt like we were at home and we were all certain of victory. As we admired the beautiful blonde walking by, we realised she was familiar. It was Claudine Keane. http://s1172.photobucket.com/albums/r573/goreilly1/?action=view¤t=ClaudineKeane.jpg
Before we let her get back to her friend, I told her that tonight was going to make a hero of her husband. I promised her.
I finally made it to my seat up in the heavens. I was a proud man singing Amhran na Bhfiann, but I was prouder that I climbed all 2 million steps without spilling a drop of my pint. These pictures below from my seat shows the section of the stadium where the majority of Traps army were based:
The goal that we are overlooking is the same goal that Robbie Keane found with a cool finish on 32 minutes. We went ballistic. That goal is what fans live for. Those moments will live with me forever. By the time I calmed down, I realised I was had no idea where my seat had gone, and I had to climb the steps again. This time the pint was gone.
We battled heroically and dominated the second half. The noise we made was deafening. We won the game in 90 minutes, and the game went to extra time. “What happened next was history, brought tears to many eyes”. All of our dreams came crumbling cruelly down. In a scene from Croke Park, Terry Henry extended a clinical hand pass to William Gallas who tapped it home. The Stade de France holds 80000 people. We all saw this blatant act. I was miles away but there was no doubt in my mind. Unfortunately the referee, Martin Hansson, wasn’t so sure. As the texts messages flooded in, our suspicions were confirmed and we were incandescent with rage. The only small comfort was that even the French supporters were empathetic. They seemed genuinely embarrassed at what had just unfolded. Surely Fifa would order a replay? Why didn’t this trip have a happy ending like Joxer? Where was our Ray Houghton? I had never known such despair.
My thoughts then turned to the long, gruelling and depressing journey home. Why the feck did I have to go back through Frankfurt!? Thankfully I am going to Poznan in Style. Thank you Irish Rail!