IT’S been a long 10 years… but the Irish football team is back.
And next weekend the streets of Lurgan will become a sea of green as football fans pack the town’s pubs to cheer Giovanni Trapattoni’s team on to victory over Croatia, their first opponents in this summer’s eagerly awaited Euro 2012.
At one bar, The Batcave in William Street, staff and organisers are using the occasion to raise funds for the local suicide charity, PIPS.
Money lifted in a prize draw, which sees an Ireland shirt and other Euro 2012 gear up for grabs, will go straight to PIPS.
A series of initiatives - including ‘Pass The Glass’ with a minimum jackpot of £100 - will ensure an element of fun for fans, who are being urged to come along in green.
Two DJs will play on the night and Irish football anthems - such as the Christy Moore classic ‘Joxer’ and the catchy Rockier Road To Poland by Irish punk icon Shane MacGowan - will ring around the pub before kick-off.
Owner of the Batcave, Iain McMullan, said as well as being a night to raise money for charity, it was important that “everyone enjoyed the festivities of the football extravaganza”.
“There’s a generation that won’t have seen this before or know what it’s about. And we could all do with a bit of optimism,” he said.
“Just get here early and enjoy the atmosphere and our great drink promotions. We’re here to lighten the load, there’s nervous anticipation. We all need a bit of a lift. Win, lose or draw, we’re Irish, we’re still going to have a great time.”
One of the DJs on the night, Mark Casey, added: “I’m pleased to be part what promises to be a great night, regardless of the result.
“Summers have been quite barren for Ireland fans since 2002 so anticipation is high for this tournament, plus some fans would have been too young to experience the near-mania that sweeps the town whenever Ireland reach a major finals. This night will hopefully capture some of that.”
Ireland v Croatia kicks off at 7.45pm on Sunday June 10. Fans at the Batcave can expect to pay as little as £2.50 for beer.