Local community gets set for Euro 2012 showdown: Part 2
In Part 2 of the Newry Times Euro 2012 special we caught up with two local lads who will be making the trip in just over two weeks to Poland and Ukraine. Jonny Irwin, from Carnagat, compared it to the build-up to Christmas. “You remember the last few days before Christmas as a child, that’s me, only Ive been like that since the trip to Tallinn for the playoff.”
Jonny believes that despite Ireland being in the group of death they will do well. “Ireland are best as the underdog. 2002 we had no chance, 1994 no chance, 1990 no chance – this year we have no chance so you would think.” Jonny insists that Robbie Keane is the player to watch, describing him as a ‘living Irish football legend’.
This will be his first time going to a major tournament and he is making the journey with two other local lads, Newry Times sports columnist Mo Ruddy and Chris McAllister. Jonny has spent a staggering £670 so far on tickets, travel and accommodation, and that’s before he even arrives in Eastern Europe. Despite this, he remains optimistic about expenses for when he gets there. “I’ll take about £500 with me and my card, just incase. With pints at 4 zloty (£0.85) we will be fine.”
If Ireland win Euro 2012 Jonny thinks there will be ‘pure mayhem’ but he doesn’t want to think that far ahead just yet, instead he would rather relish every moment. “I just can’ wait to get over. This will be an experience of a lifetime. I really hope that everyone has a cracking time, Ireland do well and England flop.”
Newry Times sports reporter Mo Ruddy will join Jonny over in Poland and Ukraine. The 23 year old from the Armagh Road says he is ‘absolutely buzzing’ about the tournament. “I have been counting down the days for months now.”
Like Jonny, Mo believes Ireland will fare well in a tough group. “I think we can hold our own against the Croats and the Italians, however the Spanish will be very difficult to get a result against, I reckon we will sneak through with a better goal difference than Italy.”
The player to watch in the Irish squad according to Mo is James McLean. The Derry youngster switched allegiance last year from Northern Ireland to Republic of Ireland. “If he got the chance,” Mo explains, “I would say James McClean, however I think it will be the experienced lads, Given, Dunne and Keane who will be the ones to watch out for.”
This is Mo’s first tournament too and he thinks it will be an amazing experience. He has managed to get tickets to the Italy and Croatia games, accommodation for eleven nights plus flights and bus rental to and from every game, all for a cool price of between £700 and £800.
Spending money for Mo will be ‘a couple of hundred pound’. “When changed into Polish Zloty and the price of a pint working out to be around 78p where we are staying, this should be more than enough.”
For Mo, there is no doubt about who is the main man in the Irish squad. “My favourite player in the squad would have to be Richard “The Iron Curtain” Dunne. His heroics against Russia almost single handedly got us through that game.”
If Ireland do win the Euro 2012, which would surely spark the greatest party in Irish history, Mo insists there will be a lot of beers and fun to be had. “Probably like the rest of the country, I’ll go on the tear and enjoy the celebrations. It brings back memories of the Jason McAteer Carlsberg advert.”
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