Match 'most watched' in 18 years

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The Republic of Ireland’s 3-1 defeat to Croatia in their opening match in Euro 2012 last night attracted record audiences on RTÉ, making it the most watched sports event in Ireland since 1994.

More than two million people tuned in at some point during the game, causing significant changes in electricity demand. An average of 1.2 million people watched the entire two and a half hours of coverage, including pre and post match analysis and the Après Match sketch, making it the most viewed programme of the year so far.

It is the first time since RTÉ’s coverage of the 1994 World Cup that any sports event on any channel available in Ireland has attracted such a large audience.

Electricity consumption fell by 3 per cent at the beginning of the match, as people stopped using electrical appliances and sat down to watch television together, according to data from the EirGrid National Control Centre.

After the full-time whistle blew, demand for power surged by 7 per cent as viewers switched on kettles and lights.

Sunday’s game was one of a small number of televised events which have caused electricity demand to change in a measurable way, including the first Ireland-England rugby match in Croke Park in 2007 and the penalty shoot-out between Ireland and Romania in the Italia ’90 World Cup.

RTÉ's coverage and analysis of the Republic of Ireland v Croatia match is currently the most popular programme on the RTÉ Player.

Speaking to reporters in Castlebar, Co Mayo, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Ireland would have an “Everest to climb” in the Euro finals, but added that “anything is possible in sport”.

“I am sorry that Ireland did not measure up. Clearly it is a big disappointment for the team and for the manager Trappatoni but also for the supporters,” he said.

The Taoiseach had planned to travel to Poznan to see Ireland take on Italy on Monday, but has cancelled his trip due to Cabinet commitments.

“We have to get our priorities in place here,” he said.

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