Ryan hails 'Blarney Army'
Ireland grateful for passion of travelling supporters
Last Updated: 29/09/11 3:22pm
Ryan: praise for fans who have made World Cup trip
Donnacha Ryan says Ireland are being invigorated by the support of the 'Blarney Army' at the World Cup.
Over 20,000 noisy Irish fans attended Sunday's thrashing of Russia with hordes of camper vans decked out in the tricolour descending on Rotorua for the Pool C clash.
Two weeks ago at Eden Park, Australia supporters struggled to make their voices heard above the din of the cheers for Ireland's 15-6 victory.
The Irish have emerged as the most popular and colourful fans at the tournament and Ryan admits the squad are thriving in their presence.
"After the Russia game we went to meet some of the supporters," said the Munster forward.
"To see people playing the piano in the street and singing songs from home was amazing. It's great to feed off that goodwill that people have.
"I was in a pub for an hour - no more - and it was as if they'd uprooted a pub from Dublin and taken it there.
"The bar ran out of drink - but I had nothing to do with that! They obviously didn't allow for the amount the Irish lads would drink."
Donnacha Ryan Quotes of the week
"The bar ran out of drink - but I had nothing to do with that! They obviously didn't allow for the amount the Irish lads would drink.
"Everyone's in good form and I'd say a lot of people are making friends in camp sites and hostels."
Ireland's team hotel in Dunedin has an on-site casino and the players have paid a visit, though it was not a night to remember for Ryan.
"The casino has been bit of a distraction for a few lads," he said.
"I'm a guilty party unfortunately. I've tried a few slot machines.
"Sadly the only machine I'm winning out of is the ATM machine.
"I don't want to be naming and shaming on the big winners!
100 and I'm out, I know my limits."
Ireland are preparing for Sunday's decisive Pool C showdown with Italy, a match that will determine which side progresses to the quarter-finals.
Azzurri coach Nick Mallett has already thrown down the gauntlet by stating the Italian have a better front row and are ready to back up their claim at Otago Stadium.
Ryan insists Ireland have shrugged off the claim and have complete faith in their props Mike Ross and Cian Healy and hooker Rory Best.
"Nick is showing a lot of confidence in his players and rightly so, they have many caps," he said.
"We've a lot of confidence in our own front row. They're doing very well for us.
"I don't get motivated by what other people say, like the other guys I get more motivated by people who send messages from home."
Ryan made his first World Cup start in the 62-12 triumph over Russia and admits it was an occasion wrought with emotion.
"It was great against Russia. I haven't been nervous about a game for a long, long time," he said.
"Before I was a bit overwhelmed about what was happening. I saw my parents in the crowd and there was emotion in their face.
"I tried to run myself into the ground and give a good account of myself.
"My mum's gone home, budgetary constraints have forced her home.
"She's going back to work, my dad will come back over again. It's great having them around."