Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The largest ever audience for a soccer match played in Ireland will tune in today to watch Portuguese teams Braga play Porto in the Europa Cup Final.
It is believed that 20,000 Portuguese fans will arrive in Dublin today for the clash. You can imagine the fans of Porto and Braga looking at all the garda and barriers on the streets of Dublin and thinking..."are they not going over the top with their security...our fans don't hate each other that much." Fear not our Portuguese friends...it is all for her Royal Majesty the Queen.
On my way to Belfast yesterday I had a quick look at the stadium and noticed that the normally stand out sign for Aviva was covered with a banner saying "Dublin". I later read that we are not allowed call it Aviva Stadium due to the sponsors of the cup not wanting any shine to be taken away from them...they didn't have to worry about Irish supporters as most still call it after it's real name...Lansdowne Road.
What a couple of weeks it is going to be for Dublin and Ireland. The capital is plastered all over most major networks in the world showing images of the Queen laying a wreath at the Garden of Remembrance. This comes just days after Jedmania overcame Europe and the Eurovision Song Contest. The lads song Lipstick has gone number one in for countries this week. Next week the President of the World...Barack Obama arrives in Dublin to woo us.
But first things first. The Europa Cup Final will be the biggest televised event to date in Ireland with 40 cameras worth €75m in place. A total o 54 different international broadcaster will b covering the game.
No disrespect to the finalists but the game will not be a sell-out. There are still tickets available but today will till be the busiest day in the history of Dublin Airport as the Portuguese invasion takes place.
It is estimated that up to 80pc of the visitors will fly into Dublin today and head home tonight, however the match will be worth €20 million to the city.
On the football front, it appears that Braga don't have chance in the game. Porto are unbeaten and most footie pundits I've read or heard say that Braga will have to play out of their skin to have any chance.
We'll I'm a lover of the underdog...so Ollie will be shouting for Braga.
That said both fans are all very welcome to drop into the Grand Canal Hotel and Gasworks Bar for a pint of Dublin's finest. Just ask for Ollie.
Ollie McGrath (OMG).