Football

Whelan Fumes As Ireland Match Interrupted By Tennis Balls Protest

Whelan Fumes As Ireland Match Interrupted By Tennis Balls Protest

The Republic of Ireland's clash with Georgia at the Aviva Stadium was briefly interrupted during the first half as members of the crowd fired tennis balls onto the field.

The incident occurred just after the half-hour mark, despite a statement from winger James McClean before the game which slammed the idea:

What does it achieve? Throwing a tennis ball on the pitch, what does it achieve? I think it's pointless. You see it happen a few times in games.

I think it's stupid. You're just disrupting the game. I don't see any benefit to it whatsoever.

McClean could be seen clearing tennis balls off the field as the game was briefly halted.

There had been rumours on Ireland fan forums all week that tennis balls would be flung on the Aviva pitch tonight as fans express their anger at John Delaney's continuing role in the FAI. On Saturday, John Delaney resigned as FAI CEO to take on the role of FAI Executive Vice President. Delaney has been engulfed in controversy after the Sunday Times revealed two weeks ago that the former FAI CEO had loaned the FAI €100,000 in 2017.

Former Republic of Ireland international Ronnie Whelan was strongly critical of the act. "Ridiculous. Completely and utterly ridiculous. It has been a very good first half from Ireland. They get rewarded with balls thrown on the pitch and Ireland in a very good position."

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Whelan estimated that as many as 70 balls entered the playing area.

It ended positively, however, as Conor Hourihane immediately scored when the game re-started.

SEE ALSO: IFA Condemns Northern Ireland Fans Singing 'We Hate Catholics'

Maurice Brosnan

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