EURO 2016 finals the goal for Northern Ireland fans

Members of the Portadown Northern Ireland Supporters' Club have a proud tradition of following the national football team home and away - with France the next destination.INPT51-150
Members of the Portadown Northern Ireland Supporters' Club have a proud tradition of following the national football team home and away - with France the next destination.INPT51-150
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Northern Ireland football supporters have been hitting the phonelines and websites since Saturday evening’s EURO 2016 draw confirmed summer tests in Nice, Lyon and Paris.

The Green And White Army will be out in force in France next year for the European Championships following Northern Ireland’s first qualification for a major finals in 30 years.

Portadown-born international manager Michael O’Neill will mastermind qualifying games against Poland (June 12), Ukraine (June 16) and Germany (June 21), with Doncaster Rovers centre-back Luke McCullough from the town and in contention for a seat on the plane.

Irrespective of O’Neill’s final playing squad, the area will have plenty of representation thanks to the long-established Portadown Northern Ireland Supporters’ Club plus the various individuals mapping out a path to Channel.

Travel agents in the region have day-trip packages starting at over £300, with the Irish Football Association offering official deals.

“There does not seem to be one way more popular than any other, it is just about searching for the best possible deal to suit your own needs,” said Alan Curran, chairman of the Portadown Northern Ireland Supporters’ Club. “I have a family trip planned for 11 days and we arrive in Brussells then can pick a base.

“Other club members have plans to drive and take the ferry, some will be flying from Dublin and others have travel sorted for the way over but nothing yet in terms of getting back.

“Tickets will be allocated on a points system based on attendance across qualifying fixtures, home and away games and friendlies.

“Our club dates back almost three decades and we have members who went to the World Cups in 1982 and 1986.

“The majority should be eligible for tickets in France but I know other people outside the club happy to head over just for the atmosphere.

“It is going to be a special summer and this is a chance for another generation of Northern Ireland fans to build memories.”