'They worked their hearts out' - Derry fans in Lille
Derry fans have been speaking of their elation and pride as they watched the Republic of Ireland's stunning victory over Italy in Lille.
James Devenney and Carmel McConnelogue were among those who witnessed the nail-biting do-or-die drama unfold at the Stade Pierre Mauroy on Wednesday night.
The Derry couple were due to fly home yesterday but given Ireland’s heroic performance, they have decided to stay on and were online through until yesterday morning trying to secure flights and accommodation for Ireland’s epic battle against host nation France this Sunday in Lyon.
Speaking about the match, Carmel said: “What a great, great night, it was one of the best nights of football I’ve seen.
“From start to finish, there was a real buzz in the stadium. We got there about 6.45pm. The game didn’t start till 9pm but there was already an amazing atmosphere. People just wanted to party and have fun.”
Carmel said the Italian fans were also up for a bit of craic, and were gracious in defeat after the match.
She also paid tribute to Derry’s Shane Duffy and James McClean and their teammates for the passion and determination they displayed on the pitch.
“We played our hearts out last night, we really did, from start to finish,” she said. “We were sitting along with a lot of Derry supporters from Derry City Supporters’ Club, and we were all so proud of Shane Duffy and James McClean and their enthusiasm and passion.
“They worked their hearts out. I just don’t know where they got their energy from, and it was very, very warm.”
Carmel said there was a massive uproar when Robbie Brady’s header hit the back of the net.
“You would think we had just won the whole Championship last night- our fans were just brilliant.
“We were supposed to come home this morning but we came back to the apartment and looked for flights and accommodation until 5.30am and we have found somewhere in Lyon so we are staying until Tuesday.”
And Carmel reckons Ireland will give it their all against France on Sunday.
“I think we will give them a good game. What we showed last night the tenacity we had, if we come out with that spirit again there is no reason why we can’t win. After all, people weren’t sure about us beating Italy.”