Former Ireland international Declan Rice is said to be “gutted” at news Dublin will not host any of the four games – including England possible last 16 game – after UEFA removed it from list of host countries.
The West Ham midfielder was said to be “looking forward to showing Irish football fans what he can do in the flesh” in this summer’s tournament, but pandemic restrictions have seen all games moved from the Irish capital.
“Whenever I played in front of Irish fans I always got a great reception” the now England international is reported to have said. “I’m sure they’d have cheered me on in the last 16,” he continued, before wiping sweat from his brow and mouthing “phew”.
There were reports he might even wear one of the Irish shirts he wore in his three senior Irish caps during the warm-ups ahead of any game in Dublin, but only if he could find an adequate replacement rag for polishing his car first.
And there is just as much disappointment among the Irish football fraternity at the news, with fans already said to have prepared a unique welcome for Rice and his England teammates.
“There was a pre-game reenactment of the Red Wedding to be performed by the Billy Barry Kids, with a Declan Rice figure in the Roose Bolton role,” a spokesman for the Official Irish Supporters Group said.
“As he cuts down Stephen Kenny/Robb Stark, and his England teammates launch arrow after arrow into his former Irish comrades, their bodies fall in a choreographed display spelling out ‘SNAKE’ as a drone flies overhead.”
But the switch of venue hasn’t put off some Irish football fans from letting their feelings be known.
“I’ve already got flights and tickets for Glasgow and Copenhagen if England get through in second or third,” Irish supporter Davie Kehoe, 46, told us. “And have the Dublin ticket for the first spot already.
“I’ll just have to book a flight for London too now to give him dog’s abuse, wherever they end up.”
“At least it’s not St Peterburg.”
Meanwhile, Dublin City Council have moved fast to fill the gap left by the exit of UEFA’s premier international football competition.
“We are in advanced negotiations to bring the Cheese Rolling World Championships to Dublin in 2023, And we can probably get that Red Bull Flugtag thing down the docks in 2022, though the World Dominoes Championship is a long-shot.”
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