Grand occasion a first in Irish history

Kings and queens of England have visited on many occasions in the past, but today marks a first in the history of Dublin, indeed all of Ireland. Tonight Dublin plays host to a major European soccer final for the first time. Ever.

Truth is I've been underwhelmed by the contest. I'm only a skin-deep soccer fan. It was only the other day that I bothered to go looking to find out which teams were actually going to take part in tonight's Europa League Final and was disappointed to learn that both teams were from Portugal.

I don't really care, but vaguely wanted to see two different cultures in the stands and on the streets of Dublin before the game. However, FC Porto and SC Braga are not only both from Portugal, but their respective cities - Porto & Braga - are only about 30 miles apart.

I had projected my lack of interest onto everyone else here, but I'm beginning to suspect I'm wrong about that. I thought there would be thousands of empty seats, but as of this morning there are reportedly only a few tickets remaining.

Also, reportedly, there will be 25,000 visitors to these shores for tonight's game. I can't argue with that figure, but they're either all arriving today or they've been busy visiting other parts of Ireland because there were very, very few Portuguese fans in Dublin yesterday.

I've mentioned before one of the quirks of tonight's game: that it's being played in something known - for one day only - as the "Dublin Arena." The game is really being played in the Aviva Stadium, but because Aviva Insurance is not a sponsor of Europa League, the stadium's owners have been forced to replace the name Aviva Stadium with green banners {photo}.

The beauty of all this is that any Portuguese fans hoping to ask for directions to the "Dublin Arena" are likely to be met by blank stares from the locals. Fortunately, there are color-coded signs around the center of Dublin directing fans in the right direction. You do, however, have to stare closely to deduce the signs' meaning.

This is a testing week for Dublin. Although the pressure on the police and those involved in the organization to get the Queen's visit right is almost overwhelming it is still vitally important that Dublin and Ireland show that we're capable of handling this big occasion tonight.

At a minimum that means no crowd trouble inside or outside the stadium and no glitches with the broadcast upon which millions of European soccer fans will be depending. I'm confident that the neutral Irish soccer fans and the two sets of Portuguese will get along fine and there is no reason to suspect that Dublin's telecommunications infrastructure cannot handle the rest. Should be a good night.

COMMENTS

Log in with your social accounts:

Or, log in with your IrishCentral account:

Forgot your password ?

Don't have an account yet? Register now !

Join IrishCentral with your social accounts:


Already have an account ?

Or, sign up for an IrishCentral account below:

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.


Make sure we gathered the correct information from you

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.


You already have an account on IrishCentral! Please confirm you're the owner.


Our new policy requires our users to save a first and last name. Please update your account: