We'll always have Paris - Irish fans in high spirits before Sweden match


The streets of Paris have become a sea of green as Irish fans flood in ahead of the Republic's opening match at Euro 2016.

Supporters from Ireland - and Irish football fanatics who came from as far as America - are hopeful that their side will get off to a good start when they take on Sweden at the Stade de France on Monday night.

Around 75,000 fans are in France for the tournament, with many taking to the pubs in the Montmartre area which has become the venue for a huge Irish street party.

The Republic contingent have been praised by a senior Garda for their good behaviour and have been mixing with their Swedish counterparts.

Thousands of Irish fans gathered outside the Moulin Rouge on Sunday night, singing songs such as The Fields Of Athenry and chanting: "Come on you boys in green!"

Most of the road was shut to traffic but at one stage a sightseeing bus captured the attention of fans when they realised the spectacle they were offering to the tourists on the top deck.

French police monitored the party atmosphere and were happy to pose for photographs with revellers.

Asked if she liked the Irish fans, one officer said she did and remarked that there has been no trouble.

Among the fans enjoying the match build-up were a pair of friends from Buttevant in County Cork whose flag was the centre of attention when they showed it off.

Daniel Hegarty, 27 and Darren McNamara, 31, drew laughs from the crowd for the banner which showed a photo of their friend with the caption: "This is Tom. Tom isn't here cas he got a new gf. Don't be like Tom."

Some fans travelled further than others, with a few flying all the way from the US to see their side bid for glory.

Eoghan Colgan, 26, from Harold's Cross in Dublin, is in the States for college, and saved up for the jaunt to France.

"I can't miss this like. First night in Paris is one of the best nights I've ever had," he said.

Mr Colgan said he has been to about 36 away games, adding: "Once you get the bug I think you can't really do anything else."

Derek Walsh, 32, originally from Shrule in County Mayo, owns a pub in New York City and has only just returned from a late honeymoon.

He was struck with panic when his wife told him she had booked their honeymoon for June - just as he had booked his flights to France.

Mr Walsh said he did not care where she had booked their holiday for, but was instead keen to know the dates.

"She said the first week of June, and I'm like 'When are we back?'" he joked, before saying that luckily the trips did not clash.

He was joined by his friend Shane Whelan, 28, who works in a New York pub, but is originally from Tipperary.

Mr Whelan said his passion for the Republic is inspired by his late uncle who followed the team all over the world.

"I wouldn't be here only for my uncle," he said.

After their tie with Sweden, the Republic will take on Belgium and Italy.