Bordeaux may be the world’s largest urban heritage site according to Unesco, but Irish fans here aren’t so much concerned with history as they are the immediate future — and securing precious tickets for Saturday’s match against Belgium.
With a capacity of 42,115, the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux is half the size of Stade de France, which hosted Ireland’s opening match on Monday, meaning that thousands of Irish have travelled south without tickets.
Two of those were Jerry O’Sullivan from Kenmare, Co Kerry, and Andrew Hehir from Clare who were watching the Romania- Switzerland game on the big screen in the official UEFA fanzone set in the scenic Esplanade des Quinconces.
“We got tickets to the Sweden game, we were up in Paris,” Jerry said.
“We tried to get tickets for the Belgium game online from the uefa.com portal, but no go.”
Andrew said he was hopeful they would get tickets on the day outside the stadium or elsewhere.
“We’re going to call into the Irish bar and see if they know anyone selling,” he said, though Jerry wasn’t as hopeful.
West Cork in La Rochelle. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
“I’m not too optimistic, a lot of Belgians are apparently going to travel, so they will take up their full allocation as well. There won’t be that many spares going around,” he said.
“If people don’t get tickets they can just come here and have a few beers,” Andrew added.
Liam Coffey and Oliver Wallace from Limerick and John Paul Griffin from Clare admitted it took “a lot of money” to get their entry to the game. They got their tickets from the second-hand website Viagogo.
“We didn’t want to take the risk of coming here without,” Liam said.
“We went through the portal and got Sweden tickets,” John Paul said, “We had a second spare pair of tickets for Sweden what we looked to swap for Belgium, but the Belgium tickets are nowhere to be got unless you’re willing to pay a lot of money,” which they eventually did.
It’ll be the trio’s second game in Bordeaux, having taken in Austria-Hungary on Tuesday night.
“There was a great atmosphere, the Hungarian ultras were good craic,” John Paul said.
Two men who had better luck without paying over the odds were Ciaran McNamara and Conor Costello from Blarney, Co Cork — who proved that perseverance pays.
“We were very lucky, we got them in the portal in March,” Ciaran said.
“I got them all in the first day, the three matches. I was on it for six or seven hours. I was lucky.
“I got the Belgium ones at about one o’clock in the morning, I was haunted,” he said.
“They do seem to be the worst ones to try and get, there’s none of them going around. I haven’t seen anyone around selling spares,” Conor said.
While there were initially a handful of Irish around the fanzone yesterday enjoying pints and playing five-a-side on the dedicated pitches, the promise of Romania-Switzerland didn’t draw a large crowd.
As the evening progressed, however, more Irish and French filled the vast space in anticipation for the host’s match against Albania.
Like Montmartre was in Paris earlier in the week, the Cours d’Albret in the city centre is becoming the home-away-from-home for the Irish, particularly the Connemara bar which is the go-to meeting point for supporters here.
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