Tweet success for fan Damien as network campaign restores his missing match tickets
THE ESTIMATES of the number of Irish fans travelling to the European Championships may have to be revised upwards from an initial figure of 20,000. One of the travelling contingent is also probably one of the luckiest, after being reunited in Poland with the match tickets he didn’t even realise he had left behind – and only after a frantic appeal on Facebook, Twitter, and eventually national radio.
Damien Coughlan (23), from Knocklyon in Dublin, had arrived in Szczecin Airport, north of Poznan, oblivious to the fact that, not only had he left his tickets behind in Dublin, but his father’s name, Oliver Coughlan, had gone viral on Twitter and other social media.
The €120 Category A tickets were non-replaceable and non-refundable and worth probably a lot more on the black market, given the demand.
Luckily his father’s name was on the tickets, which were left in Champion Sports in Dublin Airport.
The tickets were purchased with Mr Coughlan’s credit card, but were meant for his son, who had taken them out of his pocket when he went to fetch his boarding card to pay for an Irish flag.
Immediately, Champion Sports put it on their Facebook page and contacted Dublin Airport. The airport put out an alert through Twitter to its 21,000 subscribers. The tweets were picked up by the media who broadcast the appeal. Damien’s uncle heard the alert on Today FM and contacted Damien’s mother who said it must be a different Oliver Coughlan as her husband wasn’t going to the championships.
Later she realised what had happened and rang the airport police. Luckily Ronan Davis, a friend of her son, was travelling out on a subsequent flight.
On Champion Sports Facebook page Damien’s brother Ian wrote: “A big thanks to Champion Sports for finding my eejit of a brother’s tickets in Dublin Airport.”
The man himself was totally nonplussed by all the fuss.
“I had a friend ring me from Australia to tell me I was on the news there,” he said.
Dublin Airport, meanwhile, says it alone will cater for 20,000 fans to Poland over the duration of Ireland’s three games.
Several thousand other fans are travelling from Shannon and Cork Airports, while the army of camper vans has left from Dublin and Rosslare ports.
There will be also be a huge contingent of Irish fans from the UK and the continent travelling to the event.
However, only 13,000 supporters with Irish addresses have tickets for Sunday’s opening match against Croatia, which makes Damien Coughlan even more fortunate.
Closer to home the European Championships started last night with a celebration event hosted by the Polish embassy in the upmarket Krstyle nightclub to coincide with the opening match against Greece. Polish ambassador Martin Nawrot, and his Ukrainian counterpart, Sergii Reva, posed in front of the tournament mascots, Slavek and Slavko, before the start of the match, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Mr Reva said politics and football did not mix and those who questioned Ukraine’s human rights record should remember that “nobody’s perfect”.
It was a day of mixed emotions for the hundreds of Polish fans who crowded into The Village on Wexford Street in Dublin.
Pride in hosting the tournament was boosted by an impressive start and an early goal by hit man Robert Lewandowski.
However, Greece equalised through substitute Dimitris Salpingidis, and the game ended in a one-all draw.