By Ciaran O Raghallaigh in Poland
Whatever you do, don’t have a flutter on Sweden tonight. It’s not that they’re a bad team, or that they’ll struggle against the co-hosts – playing their first game of the tournament, or that they’re 15/8 outsiders in Paddy Power’s online betting.
My Polish taxi driver is the source of this information. When I say my taxi driver, I mean the taxi driver’s car stereo. And when I say car stereo, I mean the music that was coming out of it at 6.30am.
You see, for the last few days, signals were being sent in wave form to my ears, filling my head with positive thoughts. On Friday, a taxi driver noticed the Dublin lilt in my wonderful Polish, and turned off his usual radio channel, instead plumping for a station that wasn’t just Polish people talking.
In Polish. Of course, who should come on but Bono and his buddies. U2.
A big smile spread across his face, as if he’d planned it. The next day, in Poznan, a five-hour journey was nearing its end, and this driver – again with the skills of a special agent, noticed I wasn’t a local. He stuck in a CD this time, and who was it? The Cranberries. Now, for christ sake – not even the Cranberries own Cranberries CDs any more.
Hammered by the Croats
This driver soon informed me that his daughter was living in ‘Ballymoon, Baleeno…’…’eh, Ballina?’ I ventured. Yes, she’s working away in County Mayo. So, with all these messages, I was convinced things were going to go Ireland’s way. Ireland were HAMMERED 3-1 last night. This morning the taxi driver put the radio on. Roxette.
Don’t put a penny on Sweden.
Ireland lost, but that isn’t the end of things for their fans, who outnumbered the Croats in Poznan by about two to one last night.
Some slept in Poznan train station overnight, as they couldn’t get accommodation, or were on early trains northward to Gdansk, where Ireland will play Spain on Thursday. I was sat in with a few lads, who were recounting the night before.
“I was so angry I just had to get hammered,” said one. “You weren’t that drunk if you can remember being that drunk,” replied the philosopher amongst the gang. Three of the four stayed in the Carlsberg fan camp, and from their reports, it’s fair to say that if Carlsberg made fan camps, they wouldn’t be the best in the world.
“The jacks (toilets) would be better in jail,” said one, wishing he had tripadvisor.com open in front of him, “and the showers were ice cold. They must have had to freeze the bleeding water.”
They had their towels stolen, their sleeping mats ruined and were woken at 5am by someone shouting incessantly.
Just for the craic, it seemed. The only memory that brought a smile was the Irish crowd inside the stadium that never gave up, even when the team ran out of steam. But there might yet be a smile.
“France might cheer us up today, if they hockey England,” said one.
Thierry Henry, all is forgiven.