EURO 2016: Northern Ireland fans get lucky with Euro travel arrangements

Northern Ireland fan Brian Dougherty can't wait for France next summer.
Northern Ireland fan Brian Dougherty can't wait for France next summer.

While Michael O’Neill may have been disappointed with the European Championship 2016 draw, Northern Ireland fans are delighted.

Russell King, Secretary of the Londonderry Branch of the Northern Ireland Supporters Club and a host of other supporters have come up trumps in regards booking travel arrangements early.

Northern Ireland take on Poland in their opening game in Nice, before facing Ukraine in Lyon and then finishing off their Group C campaign against world champions Germany in the Parc des Princes, in Paris.

King with quite a few other Green and White Army fans booked their flights to Nice months and ago and beat the extortionate prices.

“It’s a great draw and yes it’s going to be hard but sure any draw was going to be hard,” said King.

“But it worked out alright for us, as we booked Nice three months ago. A good few of us have booked to stay in the Euro camps just outside Nice and then we are going to try and organise buses for the matches in Lyon and then maybe get flights or trains to Paris for the final game against Germany.”

Another Northern Ireland fans who booked his flight a few weeks ago was Brian Dougherty and just like King the draw has worked out well for him.

“I was lucky and we all can off booked Lyon because it was central regards where we were playing,” he said.

“So with our second game in Lyon it’s great and getting to Paris from Lyon hopefully won’t be too much of a hassle, but the first game in Nice might be a bother, but we’ll work around it.

“At the minute we haven’t booked any accommodation but we have a few contacts and hopefully over the next week or two well get things sorted.”

Dougherty and King both are happy enough with the draw and can’t wait for next summer’s competition.

“As far as I was concerned getting to the European Championships was the achievement and I’m glad we have been drawn against teams like Germany, Poland and Ukraine.

“Look playing the world championships Germany in the Parc des Princes in our last group game will be amazing, hopefully everyone can get tickets and enjoy the experience,” added Dougherty.

Michael O’Neill believes Northern Ireland can progress from a tough draw at next summer’s European Championship.

O’Neill insists Northern Ireland are not going just for the experience of having not qualified for a major championship final in 30 years.

“Our focus is on being competitive and on finding a way out of the group,” he said.

“I believe we are capable of taking points from Ukraine and Poland before we face Germany.”

Northern Ireland, making their debut at the Euro finals, will face Poland in their opening game on Sunday June 12.

They will then meet Ukraine on Thursday June 16 before taking on World champions Germany on Tuesday June 21.

O’Neill added: “I think the most important thing is to take something from your first game.

“The fixtures may work in our favour in that we have Poland and Ukraine before we play Germany.

“We have three Premier League centre backs and they will relish the challenge of playing against Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski.

“We won our qualifying group – people tend to overlook that. And we were the top scorers in our group.

“We have always done better against the bigger nations, like Russia and Portugal in our last World Cup group.”