Excitement is building among Derry’s legions of soccer fans ahead of Ireland’s Euro 2012 kick off- particularly with local heroes Darron Gibson and James McClean among their ranks.
The ‘boys in green’ kick off their campaign against Croatia on Sunday night and hundreds of fans in the city are set to descend on the city’s watering holes or gather in front of the box to cheer Trapattoni’s men on.
Scores more fans from the city are making the epic journey east to follow the Irish in Poland.
Among them is ‘Journal’ reporter Andrew Quinn - complete with his band of fellow fans, dubbed ‘The McClean Getaways.’
“There are four of us in total heading out. There’s myself, Diarmuid Doherty, Michael Doherty and Stephen Sheridan,” he said before heading off last night.
“We came up with name ‘The McClean Getaways’ when former Derry City player James McClean was named in Giovanni Trapattoni’s team.
“It’s great going to support Ireland at the Euros but it’s extra special knowing that there are two boys from Derry in the team in James McClean and Darron Gibson.”
Andrew and the ‘McClean Getaways’ face a long journey to get to the footballing action. They travel from Belfast to Luton, to Hamburg before picking up a camper van and making for Poznan.
“We are due back home in Derry on June 20 but if Ireland were to make it into the quarter-finals I dare say there’ll be a few phone calls back home - with a call to the Derry Journal being one of them,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bookmakers Ladbrokes say the wealth of local interest in the squad - Lifford’s Shay Given further adds to the north west presence in the Irish ranks - has sparked a few big bets in Derry.
Both Derry players have been tipped for great things ahead of the tournament.
Former Everton midfielder Ian Snodin has tipped ex Manchester United player Gibson to become “the mainstay of the Republic midfield come the Euros.”
McClean who has taken the Premier League by storm this season with Sunderland, was yesterday touted as Ireland’s ‘surprise package’ by former Ireland skipper Roy Keane.
“He’s a good player, and the other teams won’t have seen too much of him. He’s a big strong boy, he can get you goals, he’s a threat. If he can bring his club form to the team he can get in that starting eleven.”
Hayley O’Connor of Ladbrokes said: “Derry punters seem to think McClean could make a lasting first impression on his competitive international debut.
“We’ve had takers of the 14/1 on offer for him to be Ireland’s top goal scorer at the tournament and he definitely looks a player with big potential.”
The bookies say they’ve taken a number of £100 each way bets in the city on Ireland lifting the trophy.
And for those with an eye for a punt, Ladbrokes are offering 250/1 for McClean and Gibson both to score in a 2-0 win on Sunday night.
They also price McClean at 14/1 to finish the tournament as Ireland’s top scorer, while you can get odds of 22/1 on Everton star Gibson.
And if you’re looking for a real novelty bet goalkeeper Given is 100/1 to score at any time during Euro 2012.
Are you going to Poland to follow Ireland? Then we want you to help us build an online gallery of Derry fan’s Euro 2012 pics - send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll publish them at www.derryjournal.com