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Jubilant Irish fans throng the stadium

About 300 die hard Irish fans flew into this city to back their home team in their World Cup Group B match against s England at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Wednesday.

cricket Updated: Mar 03, 2011 02:23 IST

About 300 die hard Irish fans flew into this city to back their home team in their World Cup Group B match against s England at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Wednesday.

Though cricket in Ireland falls behind in popularity to rugby and soccer, many Irishmen and a few women came calling from Belfast, Dublin and even Clonakitty in the countryside, to watch their men in green take on the much-experienced English side.

"Though we are closer to Britain than any other cricketing country, the game did not attract us earlier as rugby or soccer (did). Thanks to 50-over and T20 formats, the present generation of players and fans are getting hooked to it," Mike Cheers, 37, a geologist from Clonakitty, told IANS, even as English batsmen were mauling the Irish bowlers in the first half session.

After qualifying to play in the World Cup 2007 for the first time, Ireland also played against England in T20 last year in West Indies.

"Many of us have come on a package trip to the sub-continent to back our team play in the league matches and will stay back if they qualify for the second round of the tournament. Our team was unlucky to have lost to Bangladesh by just 27 runs last week. We are here to extend our support to our young team," said Sean Doran, 45, an engineer from Belfast.

Unmindful of win or lose, the Irish fans were delighted to be in Bangalore to witness the frenzy with which cricket is followed by millions of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. http://www.hindustantimes.com/images/HTPopups/030311/03_03_11-metro-22b.jpg