As the final seconds ticked away in a match that had been a foregone conclusion since the opening minutes, Arena Gdansk was echoing the songs of the Irish fans.  Despite being down 4-0, and witnessing Fernando Torres' escape from Spanish football purgatory, the Irish fans sang proudly. Their team had been eliminated, playing poorly in their first two group stage matches, but the Irish fans made sure their team did not exit silently.  It was the most spectacular display by fans thus far at the tournament and was the perfect compliment to the beautiful football being displayed on the field by Spain.



Match Highlights Here
Irish Fans' Performance in Full

The Fields of Athenry has been a part of Irish football for over two decades now.  It serves as the inspiration for Liverpool's "The Fields of Anfield", it can be heard at GAA events (Gaelic Games), and sung in unison (with different lyrics)  by both sides of the Old Firm Derby.  The song written in the 1970s about the Irish Potato Famine, portrays a fictional man Michael who has stolen food for his starving family, only to be caught and sent to Bottany Bay, Australia as punishment.  It is the perfect metaphor for the Irish participation at Euro 2012.


By a lonely prison wall 
I heard a young girl calling 
Micheal they are taking you away 
For you stole Trevelyn's corn 
So the young might see the morn. 
Now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay. 


Low lie the Fields of Athenry 
Where once we watched the small free birds fly. 
Our love was on the wing we had dreams and songs to sing 
It's so lonely 'round the Fields of Athenry. 

Irish football has undergone much hardship in recent memory, having their qualification for World Cup 2010 snatched away by the hand of Thierry Henry.  Their domestic league is of low quality, with the entirety of the Irish squad being made up of foreign based players.  Several members of their squad are foreign born, declaring for Ireland due to the heritage of parents and grandparents, yet the connection with the supporters remains strong. Where in many countries this would breed hostility and emnity towards a squad with a distant connection, with Ireland it has brought unity with fans traveling from all over the world to support the underdogs that they love.

By a lonely prison wall 
I heard a young man calling 
Nothing matter Mary when your free, 
Against the Famine and the Crown 
I rebelled they ran me down 
Now you must raise our child with dignity. 

Low lie the Fields of Athenry 
Where once we watched the small free birds fly. 
Our love was on the wing we had dreams and songs to sing 
It's so lonely 'round the Fields of Athenry. 

Ireland has the lonely label as the only team eliminated from Euro 2012, but they have accepted that label from the start.  Knowing they were over-matched in their group, the Irish fans came with the lone goal of supporting their lads, regardless of the outcome.  As Irish fans befriended their Spanish and Croatian opposition, their team disappointed them on the field.  When they faced what is by all measures the best team in the world, their defense crumbled in the wake of superior force.  Other Euro 2012 participants (cough...Russia) brought their hooligans, the Irish brought their song.

By a lonely harbor wall 
She watched the last star falling 
As that prison ship sailed out against the sky 
Sure she'll wait and hope and pray 
For her love in Botany Bay 
It's so lonely 'round the Fields of Athenry. 

Low lie the Fields of Athenry 
Where once we watched the small free birds fly. 
Our love was on the wing we had dreams and songs to sing 
It's so lonely 'round the Fields of Athenry.




Before the world watches the Irish sail away from Euro 2012, they have one more match against Italy. Again you can expect the Irish to sing their support to the end.  It will be a fitting send off for Irish legends like Robbie Keane, Shay Given, and Damien Duff, all likely playing in their final major competition for Ireland after ten years of waiting.  Hopefully we will not have to wait as long to greet them and their fans again.