/ Euro 2012

Dave Kelly gives us his perspective from Euro 2012

Updated: Saturday, 09 Jun 2012 16:03 | Comments

Polish fans in Poznan watch on as their side drew 1-1 with Greece in the opening match of Euro 2012
Polish fans in Poznan watch on as their side drew 1-1 with Greece in the opening match of Euro 2012

by Dave Kelly

With Euro 2012 up and running we have now reached matchday eve for the Republic of Ireland. The squad will train at the match stadium at 6pm local time, and by the time the game with Croatia kicks off the estimation is that there will be around 20,000 Irish fans in the city.

Barring any last-minute injury problems the team will be that which started against Hungary.

Shay Given took a full part in training in Gydnia on Friday, while there was also good news for Croatian manager Slaven Bilic, as Vedran Corluka has been passed fit after a hamstring strain had put his participation in doubt.

While the majority of the media pack left Sopot early on Friday evening, we set out shortly before 8am Polish time. Our pit-stop came around two hours into our journey.

Speaking of which, some of the driving I witnessed on our journey would put Sebastian Vettel to shame. We mainly travelled on motorways, but on some of the secondary routes the overtaking was of a daredevilish nature.

I reckoned a five-hour trek, mainly across the Polish countryside, was the ideal opportunity to get to know my working colleagues a little better.

The man behind the wheel was young Matt, who specialises in televison sound. With that in mind I felt his mobile phone pin code number of 1-2 1-2 was a stroke of genius.

Matt is also the man pressing all the right buttons in the satellite van and adjusting the dish to get the pictures from Poland back to Dublin. He was ably assisted by cameramen and editors Will and Darragh.

These guys and the rest of their team over here have been a joy to work with and certainly made my life a lot easier. As I mentioned earlier in the week the team over here and back in Dublin have been right across every aspect of covering a major sporting event such as this.

The temperature in Poznan was noticably higher than it had been all week in Sopot. It was a positively balmy 23 degrees when we arrived in the city.

With the Euro 2012 branding everywhere to be seen and Irish and Polish fans out and about it was at this moment the tournament really began for me.

We headed straight to the city centre official UEFA Fan Zone.

The staff and volunteers were putting the finishing touches to the stage, crowd, corporate and media areas at lunch time. By the time the game itself came around the Fan Zone was a sea of red and white.

Euro 2012 is the biggest sporting event ever to have taken place in Poland and I can't emphasise enough just how much the public is behind the hosts and the event itself.

Robert Lewandowski, the man reportedly heading to Manchester United this summer, had the honour of scoring the tournament's first goal. For me the reaction in the Fan Zone which followed was the highlight of the trip so far.

In the end Poland had to settle for a point after an eventful game.

Things were a little more reserved for the Russia v Czech Republic game, but watching on a massive screen in the open air on a mild summer's evening was a great way to end day one of the tournament.

We spoke to some Irish fans after the game as part of the coverage on RTÉ Two. One guy had made the trip over from Australia, and there are similar stories of Irish supporters that will be arriving into Poland from a lot further afield than Ireland.

Before heading to Ireland and Croatia training at the match stadium this evening we'll be speaking to the Irish fans in Poznan city centre for our Six-One news.

I'll be keeping an eye out for a couple of friends of mine who are due to arrive in. The big day is almost upon us at last.

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