A superb amphitheatre, a terrific buzz and plenty of football action — no, not the Stade de France, The Courtyard off Sober Lane where hundreds gathered for a night of “oohs” and “aahs” and a result any of us would have taken yesterday morning.
In the thick of it was a pair of lovebirds from opposing nations: Samantha Keane, from Co Wexford but living in Cork, and her boyfriend, Daniel Nordlund from Orebro, Sweden.
“Thank god it was a draw,” said Samantha diplomatically, echoing the sentiment of, well, no one.
Daniel, who works for Apple, didn’t share her knack for diplomacy. “I am so disappointed. I was expecting three points. It feels like a loss,” he said.
He did concede that Ireland was the better team on the night and that the entertainment laid on for fans in pubs around the city far surpassed anything he’s experienced in Sweden.
“We don’t have this kind of event in Sweden, we watch it at home,” he said.
Eamonn and Karen Cassidy were on an emotional rollercoaster. Ecstatic at Wes Hoolahan’s terrific finish in the 48th minute, the trauma of an own goal in the 71st was almost too much to take.
Nonetheless, the Irish national soccer team has, over the years, contributed to many happy memories for the couple from Ballyvolane, Cork City.
“Eamonn asked me out in the Olympic Stadium at Munich 88,” Karen says.
“We were following the team for three weeks and there were 68 fellas and four girls. Two marriages came out of it. Myself and Eamonn and Eamonn’s brother Dan and my friend Janice. Myself and Eamonn are married 20 years this month.”
Owner of the premises, Finbarr O’Shea, said they were “absolutely overwhelmed” by the turnout.
“One of our best days through the years has been Paddy’s Day. This has totally surpassed it,” he said.
His team of chefs were flat out at the pizza oven located next to the courtyard where punters were glued to a 16ftx5ft screen.
Over at Rearden’s Bar on Washington St, fans were spoiled for choice such was the array of screens.
Sully, the manager, said there were 15, including a giant screen on the laneway outside, which by Friday will resemble a fanzone in Bordeaux. Inside more delicious pizzas were on offer. Those who passed through the doors were put in the mood with the gift of a voucher for a free pint of Carlsberg.
Bar owner Paul Montgomery and chair of the Port of Cork, John Mullins, were in the thick of it.
Paul said the outdoor screen would be put to good use over the summer for Wimbledon, the Cork Midsummer Festival and the Olympics.
Soho on Grand Parade was subdued by comparison, but nearby, in Deep South, the high jinks were starting as fans decided a draw wasn’t a bad result after all, and sure, don’t we always go about it the hard way?
At the old Andrew’s Lane Theatre in Dublin, suits were swapped for football shirts as city workers sweltered alongside students.
And with 300 bodies packed into the venue, Galway native Chris St John bemoaned the lack of initiative by city chiefs to set up an outdoor Euro2016 fanzone.
“The city council should have done a bit more, a bit of imagination, you could have had a big screen up, maybe Stephen’s Green, it’d be nice to be outside,” he said.
However, optimism was not found wanting among the group from the Central Bank’s banking supervisory division despite the undeserved draw.
Pauric O’Brien from Templeogue in Dublin, decked out in smart shoes and slacks and an Ireland shirt, beer stained by full time, epitomised that.
“You get two draws, you never know, you could make a third place, not very likely but it could happen,” he said.
Outside on Andrew’s Lane a timely mural of Ireland’s assistant manager Roy Keane had been painted with an alarming message.
A play on the Barack Obama ‘Hope’ portrait, it read “can’t cope”.
However, perhaps the message that best summed up the mood of the night came via Twitter.
As @philipoconnor tweeted “A result that neither side wanted, and, over the 90 minutes, Sweden probably didn’t deserve.”
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