by Dave Kelly

Spirits were high among both sets of supporters around the city before the game. The majority of Irish fans would have been delighted with a point, and I sensed from speaking to a number of Croatian fans that they had a genuine respect for this Irish team.

After we had competed our report for the Six-One news I jumped in a taxi and headed for the stadium.

On a personal level the game was my first at a major championship.

The result was clearly a disapointment, but the matchday experience itself was anything but. Apart from the joint host nations only Germany will be supported by greater numbers at this tournament.

As is always the case whenever the team are involved in a game of such significance the fans turned out in force. Comedian Karl Spain was on hand as part of the pre-match entertainment and did a great job conducting the mass singing of  'The Rocky Road to Poland.'

It was a miserable evening weather wise, but the drizzling rain did not dampen the enthusiasm one bit. A rousing rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann had just faded when the mood changed entirely.

When Croatia scored less than three minutes in, there was at least plenty of time for the team to find a response. When it came, the months of saving and the planning involved to get to Poland would have all seemed worthwhile.

The match day experience will stay with me forever. In the minutes that followed Sean St Ledger's equaliser a win, which would have left the side top of Group C this morning, seemed a real possibility.

That was as good as it got. A minimum of four points is surely now needed if Ireland's Euro 2012 campaign is to include a game in Ukraine.

It was inevitable that the fans we spoke to after the game were in favour of a change in personnel on Thursday evening. I wasn't surprised to hear that James McClean was the man the fans believed would at east offer something a little different .

While the Derry man has made a big impact in the Premier League with Sunderland and fully merits his place in the squad, inclusion in the starting XI on Thursday looks highly unlikely.

With Giovanni Trapattoni using five all strikers last night a change up front appears a much more likely option.

This morning we are heading back to Poznan City Centre to get a more considered view of last night's events from the Irish supporters. From there it's a five hour road trip back to Sopot. The team will have a late afternoon training session and the build up will begin for Thursday night. Trapattoni now has to ponder just how to salvage something from a game against a team that has lost only 2 of their last 46 competitive games.