NI fans hope they'll tame the Welsh dragon
Local Northern Ireland fans at home and in France have high hopes that the Green and White Army will be able to slay the Welsh dragon in Paris.
Around 500 Northern Ireland fans from Derry have headed to France over recent weeks to cheer their team through the group stage and local fans said they are convinced that Michael O’Neill’s boys are now in with a shot of going one better this weekend and reaching the quarter-finals.
While busloads of fans from the north west are heading to the Fanzone in Belfast, among those heading to the Parc de Princes in Paris are a group of NI Supporters’ Club members from the Waterside, including local DUP Councillor David Ramsey.
Mr. Ramsey said the atmosphere has been electric both inside and outside the stadiums during the tournament.
Speaking from just outside Nice in the south of France on Thursday, he said: “We decided last night that we are staying on.
“With the Republic winning on Wednesday night that helped us as we have ended up with Wales instead of France. I believe we have a real chance now.”
He also said that the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans were having good craic together in France.
“We were pleased for the Republic and we are also thankful to them for getting us Wales,” he said. “At the end of the day we have a powerful defence and with Gareth Bale everyone says it’s a one man team, so as long as we keep him in check Northern Ireland have a good chance of going to the last eight.”
Mr. Ramsey said that NI’s impressive display against Germany, despite losing out 0-1, and their previous form leading up to and during the tournament had convinced many that the team is a force to be reckoned with.
Earlier this month it emerged that Colr. Ramsey had achieved 100 per cent attendance at council meetings since taking up office - just before he flew out to France. He has missed a couple of meetings since, but said the opportunity to go was one he couldn’t pass up.
“Our club was formed 30 years ago and I joined 25 years ago. We have travelled and always had a good time, even through the difficult times and this time is particularly special. We have saved long and hard for this after we saw how they were playing- you could see them developing and it’s great to see they are now in the final 16 and could be in the last eight.”
But all good things must come to an end and win or lose, immediately after the match on Saturday Mr Ramsey will he departing for home, where, hopefully, the celebrations will be in full swing if Northern Ireland can do the business in Paris against Wales.