Painting the town green on super Sunday

David Tucker and Amy Lewis

Published 13/10/2015 | 00:00

A happy group of Polish supporters watching the game from Warsaw in Metro 17 on Sunday night.
A happy group of Polish supporters watching the game from Warsaw in Metro 17 on Sunday night.
Lauren Murphy , Aisling Redding and Mandy Russell cheering on the Irish at Wexford Wanderers Rugby Club.
Watching Ireland v Poland at Maggie Mays: James McCleane, Danny Roche, Craig Roche, Alan Murphy, Owen Healy and Keith Jordan.
Steve Stuart, Brian McGonagle and club president Brendan Culliton celebrate a great Irish victory over France at Wexford Wanderers Rugby Club Sunday evening.
At Wexford Wanderers Rugby Club for the France game: Paul Ryan, Pat Ryan and Pat's brother Terry, home from New York.
Proud to be Irish watching the Ireland v France rugby match in the Crown Bar: Emma Boggan, Danielle Furlong and Carol McCleane.
In the Crown Bar for the Ireland v Poland game: Damien Moran, James Murphy, Terry Roche, Darren Smith and Brian Smith.
Wexford native Jackie Menard Byrne, who is married to a French man, posted this picture of herself on social media as she watched the match in France.

Like the rest of the country, Wexford was on the edge of its seat over the weekend as the rugby squad took on the might of France and the soccer team fought a bruising encounter with Poland.

In a famous victory Ireland crushed France 24 to 9 and will now face Argentina in Sunday's quarter final of the Rugby World Cup. However, the boys in green fared less well against Poland, losing 2-1 which means they have to do well in the play offs to qualify for Euro 2016. After beating Germany 1-0, a victory would have been a big ask.

Deputy Mick Wallace, whose Wexford Youths recently won the SSE Airtricity First Division, said it all in a Tweet:

'Only 3 days between Landsdowne and Warsaw - same commitment, different result, different world....'

Wexford auctioneer Nick Popplewell, Ireland's 'first professional rugby player' with 48 caps, described the game against France as 'fantastic'.

'It was absolutely unbelievable to come off with a result like that,' he said.

'With Paul O'Connell off and John Sexton off, I think France took it for granted at half time that a win would follow.'

'It's looking like Sexton will be all right for next weekend and hopefully 0'Mahoney. With O'Brien, TV3 highlighted the fact that it was a punch, once it was a closed fist and it would be terrible if he misses the Argentina match because of that,' said Nick.

'But that's sport and if he's out of it it will be a major loss. I don't think it was a malicious punch, it was more of a swinging arm because he was grabbing on to his jersey.'

Nick said that while there some great individual performances, Ireland's victory was very much a team win.

'If anything the lads that came on played better than the lads they replaced.. I don't know how these players can hit the pitch with their second winds and do what they do. Henshaw was fantastic, he took a lot of pressure off Madigan who made a couple of loose passes when he came on and he was able to tidy those up.

'I was looking at the analysis after the match and the numbers of yards and metres madewas incredible.'

Looking forward to the quarter finals, Nick said it was great that we were not playing New Zealand, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the Argentinians.

'With O'Connell out, O'Mahoney out and (possibly) O'Brien out, it will be a touch match.'

Commenting on Ireland's 2-1 loss to Poland in the Euros, Nick agreed that compared to the rugby match earlier in the day, it was a bit like the agony and the ecstasy.

'My young fella is more interested in the soccer than me and what happened is a pity, but the door is still ajar,' he said.

Enniscorthy solicitor Tony Ensor, who was capped for Ireland 22 times, said that after the injuries to Sexton and O'Connell, even though we were three points ahead, 'I feared for us'.

'However, the performance in the first 15 minutes of the second half was heroic. France tried to boss and bully us but they didn't succeed. I thought that O'Mahony, O'Brien and Henshaw stood up to the physical battering and bossed the French which surprised me. The atmosphere must have been phenomenal. My son was there and he told me that he has never experienced anything like it.'

'I haven't heard any updates on the injuries but I believe O'Connell has a serious hamstring problem and that normally takes about four to six weeks to get over. I don't know about the other two but I think we would really need as many of our squad as possible against Argentina, who have proven themselves to be very impressive.'

'However, to beat France in the World Cup is an achievement in itself and the congratulations for that performance shouldn't be lost on the worry about Argentina. We have to take one match at a time. Smith proved what a great coach he is. He had all of his squad linked in together so that, when the subs came on, they knew the game plan and they stuck to it. Effectively, they got the French.

'My own experience would tell me that once you score two tries against France, their heads go down. Once they know they have a difficult task on their hands, they never seem to look up. Their fight went down and they started making mistakes.

Talking about the game between Ireland and Poland, Tony said we were all so buoyed up by the German result and we realised we had to be very physical against the Poles.

'It was a difficult match to referee. I thought that our players, in particular John O'Shea, decided that they would defend physically and that took its toll. I thought that Poland deserved victory on the night, but we have another chance. I know that there will be a lot of good teams in this playoff but none the less, we're still there. I think O'Neill has done a tremendous job.

'He has put a team together with no stars but what they lack in world class ability, they show in team spirit. They're going to miss O'Shea in the next match. I don't think their squad is numerically as strong as the rugby team; they can't afford to lose any players.

Irish international footballer Stephen Hunt, who runs the Tides restaurant in Rosslare Strand, said that from Thursday onwards everyone was on a high looking forward to the two games.

'The first lived up to all expectations. In terms of the second one, it was always a big ask. I think that the performance was a disappointment. A lot will be said about the team and the personnel in the team.

'I think the manager will look back on it with a bit of regret but only Martin O'Neill can answer that one. Hopefully the draw works out for us now. There's no easy draw in the playoffs so we will wait and see.'

'In terms of the rugby, we are better off being the underdogs and taking it match by match. Everyone has been so excited and I don't want to build it up too much. The most important thing is trying to get over all of the injuries. The way the soccer team struggled to pick themselves up after the Germany win could turn out the same for the rugby players. So they should take it easy and play it down a bit. Getting the lads motivated is the most important thing,' he said.

French resident, Wexford town's Jackie Menard Byrne, who is married to a Frenchman, was showing her true colours on social media with a picture of herself decked out as Ireland's number one fan, accompanied by the message: 'For my family at home in Wexford I'm ready, let's bring it on, which drew a comment from Catherine Cowman that Jackie 'must be caught between a rock and a hard place'.

Wexford People

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