Irish football flag still flying ... 25 years on

The Ballykelly flag at a World Cup qualifier in London between the Republic of Ireland V England at Wembley stadium (March 1991).
The Ballykelly flag at a World Cup qualifier in London between the Republic of Ireland V England at Wembley stadium (March 1991).

When Seamus Cunning’s aunt made a flag for an Irish match in the World Cup qualifiers back in 1991, no one would have thought 25 years on it would be still be flying.

Seamus Cunning, originally from Ballykelly, is the man in possession of the flag that was flashed on television screens around the world during last Monday’s game between Ireland and Sweden.

Seamus and Sean with the flag in Paris.

Seamus and Sean with the flag in Paris.

Seamus, who was at the game in the Stade de France in Paris with his youngest son, Sean, explains the background to the flag.

“My aunt, Margaret Owens, from Limavady made me the flag as I was going over with a few people from the Drummond Hotel, Ballykelly, to a World Cup qualifier in London to see the Republic of Ireland V England at Wembley stadium in March 1991,” said Seamus.

“The ‘Ballykelly flag’ is now celebrating its 25th year.”

The proud Ballykelly man has been making sure to give the flag as much exposure as possible during his time in France.

Seamus - who is married and lives in Derry city - and son, Sean have been photographed at most of the major tourist attractions in Paris with the Ballykelly flag, including the Eiffel Tower.

As for the football, Seamus said the atmosphere at the Ireland game, and in general, is amazing.

“I have three children, two boys and a girl. Like myself, my boys support Celtic and Republic of Ireland. I went over to the Euro 2016 Ireland v Sweden match at the Stade de France with my youngest boy Sean who is 10 years old,” said Seamus.

“I spent three days in the French capital enjoying the sights and the football.

“The atmosphere in Paris was amazing, and the local French have really taken a shine to the Irish supporters.”

Ireland had deservedly gone ahead early in the second half against Sweden on Monday thanks to Wes Hoolahan’s superb finish.

Unfortunately, for Seamus and Sean they didn’t get to see it.

“I missed the Ireland goal on Monday night as my youngest boy Sean decided to go the toilet after half time so, hopefully, I will get a chance to see another Ireland goal over the next week,” he added.

Seamus and all Ireland fans will be hoping the boys in green will make up for the own goal slip against Sweden by beating Belgium in their next game tomorrow afternoon.