Emigrant fans fly the flag across the Atlantic

Pubs in the US and Canada popular with Irish emigrants have witnessed varying levels of support for the Boys in Green.

Justin Slattery, who owns Slattery’s Irish bar in Midtown, New York, said his afternoon trade had been significantly bolstered by the matches.

“It was 2.45pm our time when the matches were played and normally we’d be quiet at that time. But we enhanced the bar with flags and footballs to create an atmosphere and we got in a good crowd. We probably had up to 200 people for each game,” he said.

A native of Puckane, near Nenagh, Co Tipperary, Mr Slattery added: “It also attracted in a lot of Americans who wouldn’t normally come out to watch soccer matches.”

He expects a very large crowd for the Ireland v Italy game due to the amount of Italians living in New York.

Pubs in Toronto, meanwhile, were kept busy serving eager Irish fans.

Despite the disappointing results so far, co-manager of The Irish Embassy Pub in Toronto says the Irish fans just keep on going.

According to Gavin Quinn, who left Dublin for Toronto in 1986 with his family, the 2pm start for matches has not hindered fans from coming to the pub to support their team.

“There is definitely some people cutting off work to come and watch the games, but the atmosphere in the pub is brilliant,” he said.

Mr Quinn said it was easy to see those who have recently emigrated from Ireland, but added that they are being made very welcome by those who left before them. “It is lovely to have some newly graduated university students in Toronto. It really helps that all of these matches are a little taste of home.”

Although Ireland will not advance from the group stages, there will still be a crowd watching the Ireland v Italy match tonight, he said. “These matches are a great reason to get together and even though we are out, there still is the chance that we will win this one.”

Meanwhile, some of Kentucky’s most popular Irish pubs have been left nearly empty. Despite having a sizeable population of Irish emigrants from years gone by, one of the most popular Irish pubs in Lexington housed a lacklustre sprinkling of Irish fans for both games.

Irish businesswoman Avena Kiely said McCarthy’s pub, owned by her brother Peter Kiely and co-owner Roddy O’Byrne, had a crowd of 40 for the Croatia match, while only 20 people showed up for the Spanish match.

Ms Kiely, who also owns a pub and club in the city, claims that when some people were away from Ireland for a considerable amount of time, they began to lose interest in the country’s sport.

“I used to be a massive fan of GAA and I’m sad to say that I have not watched a match in around 10 years or so,” she said.

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