DID you hear the one about the four Barryroe men and the Offaly man at the 2016 Euros?
There’s no punch line just yet, insists Matthew O’Regan, but he’s confident that the Republic of Ireland will deliver a knockout blow at the European Championships that kick off in France this Friday.
O’Regan and three friends, David Coakley, Gearoid Holland (the designated driver for this adventure) and Ian McCarthy, and Offaly native Brian Cocoman are ready for the trip of a lifetime as they follow Martin O’Neill’s boys in green around France in their camper van.
‘It’s taken three, four months to organise this and we can’t wait. We’re picking up the camper van in London, we’ve it rented for three few weeks and the next stop then is France,’ an excited Matthew explained.
‘We were at Ireland’s home qualifying games in Dublin and we’ve followed them all the way there so we said we may as well finish the job properly and go to France.’
It will be their first tournament abroad but they won’t be alone, as the Barryroe quartet plan to meet up with more West Cork football fans on their travels around France.
‘There’ll be five of us in the van but we’re meeting up with a few more friends over there,’ Matthew explained.
‘We’re going to meet up with Micheál Hurley from Courtmacsherry – he’s cooking us breakfast for the first few days so we’ll have our own personal chef!
‘Two more fellas, John Whelton and Jack Murphy, are making the trip as well so we’ll meet up with them as well.’
First stop is Paris for Monday’s Group E opener against Sweden before the long drive to Bordeaux on the west coast for Saturday week’s game against Belgium, which is followed by a trip back up north, to Lille, for the final group game against Italy.
‘I think we’ll get out of the group. We can beat Sweden and, hopefully, beat Italy as well. The Sweden game is key; as long as we don’t lose that we’ll be in with a chance,’ Matthew said. If the Republic of Ireland do make it to the knock-out stages, Matthew admits it will be hard to leave the party early: ‘If we still have the funds we’ll stay on!’
Another well-known West Cork football fan, David Hall, who has been heavily involved in the recent visits of the Liverpool Legends and Republic of Ireland Masters, is setting up camp in Paris for the Euros, as he swaps home in Dunmanway for the French capital.
‘It’s such a great feeling to be a part of this. I’ve been to tournaments before when we weren’t involved but nothing compares to when your team is playing,’ said Hall ahead of the Euros that will see France roll out its heaviest security operation in recent history, as the threat of terrorist attacks remains a real possibility.
‘I have been over to Paris about six times since the attacks last November and you can see and feel the nervousness. Hopefully, nothing will happen and all fans will get to enjoy the tournament,’ Hall said, before adding that he’s confident Ireland can make it through to the knock-out stages.
‘I think we’ll surprise people. Roy Keane breathes a winning mentality. We’ll do well against Sweden and Italy, but I think Belgium’s expansive style will be too difficult to handle,’ he said.