NI fans ‘battered and bruised’ after historic victory

Local NI fans Mark Potts (left), Jonny and Geoffrey Kerr (right) all smiles at the Stade des Lumi�res.
Local NI fans Mark Potts (left), Jonny and Geoffrey Kerr (right) all smiles at the Stade des Lumi�res.

Local Northern Ireland fans were on cloud nine last week, after witnessing first hand the biggest match in a generation.

Gareth McAuley and Niall McGinn, of course, sealed a dramatic 2-0 win over Ukraine - NI’s first victory at a tournament final since THAT 1-0 success over Spain in the 1982 World Cup.

Banbridge man Timmy Wills savouring the scene as NI beat Ukraine.

Banbridge man Timmy Wills savouring the scene as NI beat Ukraine.

And there were plenty of local supporters at the scene, watching it all unfold.

Among them were Jonny McAlister and Geoffrey Kerr from Banbridge along with Mark Potts from Loughbrickland.

Understandably, Jonny reckons the match in Lyon is a peak that will be very, very tough to beat.

“In terms of atmosphere and enjoyment from the result, it was definitely the best match I’ve ever been to,” he said. “I’m battered and bruised from jumping around celebrating too, it was mental.

“The atmosphere outside the ground was amazing with fans from both Northern Ireland and Ukraine gathering to sing songs and enjoy drinks together.

“Inside the ground was similar - the fact that I lost my voice after the match says it all. That night we went out for dinner and drinks and that turned into another session of singing. It was unbelievable craic all day.”

The local trio were also in France for Northern Ireland’s first match of the tournament against Poland. They travelled along with the rest of the GAWA from Nice to Lyon between the first and second games.

They’s also off to Paris for today (Tuesday)’s big game against world champions Germany - but that trip isn’t quite so straight forward.

“We actually came home on Friday and we’re going to fly back over again for the Germany game,” said Jonny. “We could have just stayed on but surprisingly, it was actually working out cheaper for us to come home for a few days.”

Their bodies will no doubt thank them for the detox.

Also in the Stade des Lumières for the Ukraine success was fellow Banbridge man Timmy Wills.

“It was incredible,” he said. “The fans have been great all week and the team really rose to the occasion.

“We’re all having a great time over here, and that result definitely helped. Now it’s onwards to Paris, and after that, who knows?”

And if NI do manage to force their way through to the knockout stages, no doubt some of those local fans will be delaying their return home.