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Ballinrobe hosts Croatia World Cup party

Sport

UP FOR THE MATCHCroatian fan Sinisa Bjedov (second from left is pictured at the Croatia World Cup Final party in Biggins Bar, Ballinrobe. From left, Annemarie Kenny, Sinisa Bjedov, Liam Horan, Amelia Barberá, Gwen Costello, Meritxell Amat and Kieran Richard Tierney.

Ciara Galvin


“SURE didn’t Mayo put two own goals in in Croke Park!”
That was how one Ballinrobe man tried to console the town’s newest Croatian resident after the final whistle of the World Cup Final last Sunday.
Siniša Bjedov wasn’t deflated after his team’s 4-2 defeat in the biggest sporting spectacle in the world, but proud of his countrymen.
“It’s not too bad to be second in the world,” he told The Mayo News before consoling himself with a pint of Guinness at Biggins Bar in his adopted home of Ballinrobe.
Siniša held a World Cup party in the bar to cheer on his team, with Spaniards Amelia and Meritxell, and a group of excited locals.
“I’ve watched every game here, it’s been very good. I was most nervous for the Argentina game because I wasn’t sure what Messi would do.” Siniša is in Ballinrobe on an Erasmus entrepreneur scheme run by the EU and is working with Liam Horan of Sli Nua careers.
Siniša hails from Osijek, the same city as Croatian defender Domagoj Vida. The Mayo News is reliably informed that Sinisa was a talented soccer player himself in his younger days and now plays weekly walking football at The Green in Ballinrobe.
As the third goal went in for the opposition, Siniša had to accept that the dream may have to be postponed, but the smile returned to his face after Hugo Lloris’ bizarre ‘boo boo’ saw the Croatians score a second goal.
“It’s a funny game,” he smiled, adding that ‘Croatia are better but France will win’.
A local fan agreed that the Croatians were ‘playing their hearts out’, but that it wasn’t going to happen for them
And then, to put the tin hat on a disappointing end to the Croatian World Cup Final party, Siniša’s boss, Liam Horan, informed the group that Galway had beaten Kerry in the big GAA match at Croke Park.
“Oh great!” replied Spaniard Amelia. ‘Not great!” said Liam, and it was left to this scribe to explain local rivalries via a Spanish/Portuguese analogy, which cleared things up.
“It’s not bad being second in the world,” Siniša proudly states again. This statement is quickly seized on by a local. “Like Mayo the last few years, second best!’ he shouts.
Between post-match analysis and thoughts drifting to Galway’s win on the other channel, Siniša explained the Irish/Croatian link dating back to James Joyce’s time, who taught English in the Croatian port city of Pula where there is now a statue of the famous writer.
Commiserations were exchanged with Siniša and he began to empathise with the local reaction to the Galway/Kerry result from Croke Park.
It won’t be long until he’s one of our own!

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