All kinds of everything for Irish as own goal takes shine off early euphoria
There was heartbreak in Paris when an own goal dashed the hopes of Irish fans hoping for a win over Sweden at Euro 2016.
A second half score from Wes Hoolahan saw the Republic of Ireland’s supporters erupt in euphoria – but it was a short-lived celebration.
Disappointment struck with a devastating own goal from Ireland’s Ciaran Clark bringing the two teams level and leaving Irish dreams of a first round win in tatters.
President Michael D Higgins, known for his love of football, was among the crowd in the French capital’s packed Stade de France for the 1-1 draw.
Brian Quinn, 28, from Derry, was in the stadium for the match, and said: “Obviously it’s disappointing … when you’ve been leading.
“And to concede an own goal is heartbreaking. The boys in green put in a great shift. And we’ve great hope of going on further in the tournament.
“As for Sweden, we’ve still won more Eurovisions than them and we’ll be outsinging them well into the night.”
Jason Small, 29, from Kildress in County Tyrone, said: “I felt it was a promising performance from Ireland. We could and should have won the game.
“Following on from our last Euro tournament, where we didn’t do ourselves justice, we can be happy with the point and look forward to the Belgium game.”
Edel Scally, 27, from Dublin, said of the own goal: “Sure I thought it was a disaster. I think that Ireland were robbed.
“They were definitely the better team in the first half.”
Shane Kirwan, 34, from Borris-in-Ossory in Laois, said: “I was at the match four years ago in Poznan, the Croatia game, and let me tell you, the performance today was 100 times better than that.
He added: “I think it’s fair to say we have a star of Euro 2016 now in Wes Hoolahan. We always knew it as Irish supporters but the rest of the world gets to see it now.”
Speaking about the own goal, Mr Kirwan said: “What else could he have done really you know? The ball came to him so quickly. I wouldn’t hold that against him. I think he did a lot more good in the game than he did bad.”
Joey McDonnell, 19, from Marino in Dublin said it feels like Ireland lost, adding: “I thought we were much better than Sweden. The own goal, it was tough to take.”
He said Ireland had a lot of chances, adding: “Look, we’ll have to go and beat Italy or Belgium by the looks of it.”
Stevie Donnelly, 32, from Sligo, said: “I don’t think the own goal was Ciaran Clark’s fault totally, because defenders are supposed to try and get it out of there as soon as they can. It was just unfortunate.”
Caelen McCarthy, 9, from Swords in Dublin, said: “I thought we could have won it. We had lots of chances and we scored first.”
His sister Chloe McCarthy, 13, said: “I liked it but I thought that we could have won because we scored first.”
She added: “But it was still a good game because we didn’t lose, we got a draw.”
Ahead of the game, the streets of Paris became a sea of green as Irish supporters flooded in, with around 75,000 fans expected at the tournament.
The Republic contingent have been praised by a senior Garda for their good behaviour and have been mixing with their Swedish counterparts all weekend.
Meanwhile, Irish fans stood up and sang “Stand up for the Ulstermen” in memory of Darren Rodgers from Ballymena in County Antrim, who fell to his death from a promenade in Nice in the early hours of Monday.
They staged the tribute in the 24th minute as the popular amateur footballer was aged 24.