With Ireland’s do-or-die game against Spain tonight, the Sopot boardwalk was awash with that uniquely reddened hue that erupts across an Irish face after a few days in the sun.
The weather also gave a chance for the female of the spectator species to enjoy some downtime on the sand.
If not more deadly, she is certainly more coherent — with most of the discussions in Polish being taken up by the better halves.
Trappatoni may have Manuela to get his point across, but the Irish ladies are doing a sterling job of having to translate for their other halves.
Fiona Marron and Molly McMahon from Monaghan even picked up some tips from Trappatoni’s translator after they bumped into her while scouting for a glimpse of the players outside the team hotel.
A patient bunch, they seemed happy to spend a few weeks in predominantly male, Irish, and drunken company.
“It’s fantastic. We’ve no problem being in the minority,” said Fiona. “It’s like Oxegen except with only men. And they’re great. The ladies are being well looked after over here.”
You might not think it, but there are some plusses to being a woman over here. Number one amongst them is having an easier route to the facilities. “There are no queues at the toilets which is pretty handy considering all anyone is doing is boozing all day. Although, most lads are started to take over the ladies toilets now. We saw three Spanish lads come out of a cubicle last night. I don’t know what was going on there.”
One woman with no such problems was number one Wag Claudine Keane, who had the usual contingent of fan oglers as she lay out in a bikini on the beach.
“It’s lovely here,” she said. “It’s a beautiful day and the hotel has been great to us. The facilities are great and the kids can play on the beach and have fun.”
As much a fan as anyone, she once again confirmed her Green Army credentials a by saying she enjoyed mixing it with the fans rather than VIPs.
“In Poznan I was on the square with everyone else. Everyone was asking me why I was out with all the fans. But sure, I’m a fan myself so it was where the atmosphere was.”
One man definitely not on the beach was former international footballer and now internet rap sensation Kevin Kilbane. At the tournament as a pundit, Kilbane was enjoying a proper old-fashioned Irish knees up. While he struggled with the words to Seán South of Garryowen, he bust the mike with a pretty nifty rendition of Vanilla Ice’s classic Ice Ice Baby at 4am. Six hours later he had gone viral and his legend was sealed.
“When I was playing, I didn’t truly appreciate what the whole Irish supporters thing was about, because as a player you are just getting on with yourself,” he said. “I saw the last night at the Croatia game what it was all about.
“It was the best atmosphere I have ever been part of. For all those players, that would have been the best atmosphere they have ever been a part of. It was just amazing, absolutely amazing and produced by amazing Irish fans.”
And as for our chances against Spain, Kevin was hopeful the lads have one big performance in the tank.
“Genuinely, I think we will get a draw against Spain and beat Italy. Get four points and see how it goes.”
And like every Paddy on tour, Darragh Ainsworth is oozing confidence.
“Oh yeah, we will get a result one way or another. We have the team set up to play against them and we have the fans. I reckon there’s no reason not to get a result. All we need is one big performance.”
One big performance. After the performance the fans have put in, it’s the least the players can do.