Football / World Cup USA '94: Dublin roars with relief: Alan Murdoch joins the raucous fans cheering their team on from afar

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The Independent Online
AFTER hysteria came delirium. In the stomach-knotting, chain-smoking trauma of a second half in which the ball seemed to go everywhere except into the Norwegian net, the relief in Bruxelles Bar, off Dublin's Grafton Street, at the final whistle was deafening and euphoric.

Perhaps it was all the drink taken to ease nerves, but the evident belief among the tricolour-striped painted faces seemed to be that their Dublin decibels could be heard in New York.

At maximum volume, the twin televisions carried every bodhran (Irish drum) sound from the Giants Stadium. Willing the team on, every transatlantic chant was immediately taken up with deafening effect in Dublin.

Each passing minute of the stalemate was torture for the domestic Irish audience. Norway's strike against the Irish bar prompted scenes that could have come from a psychiatric ward.

Relief seemed to come via television, with the travelling Irish transmitting their support back home, the cue for yet more noise. In this World Cup, Irish women's interest has matched the men's. RTE, the Irish state television network, reflected popular reality by including committed women pundits in its post-match analysis.

Frustration at Ireland's inability to find the net prompted female fans who had pronounced Ireland's initial victory over Italy 'orgasmic' to turn on the wilting Irish strikers.

The national fixation was visible among the inflatable tricolour caps and T-shirts on show. The most favoured was last week's 'Pizza Cake - Ireland 1 Italy 0'.

After the result, Dublin again resounded to stacatto car horns and girls singing 'You'll Never Beat the Irish]' and the newly popular 'Gary Kelly's Sexy]', the 19-year-old Leeds right-back having supplanted the pop group Take That in teenage lust ratings after a masterful World Cup debut.