Darren O’Mahoney, Augie Williams and James Horgan enjoying a Friday afternoon beer. Longtime Irish rugby fans, now living in Australia, O’Mahoney and Horgan predicted the Irish would narrowly beat the All Blacks. Williams, from Auckland, supported the Irish, despite his Samoan heritage.
An influx of Irish rugby fans has the owners of Wellington hospitality planning a big Saturday night when the All Blacks take on Ireland in one of the most highly anticipated Test matches in recent years.
D4 owner Dermot Murphy predicted the bar, which offers three Irish beers on tap, is going to have a huge weekend.
“Over the weekend, we could sell 30 barrels of Guinness, or about 1500 litres.”
Originally from Dublin (D4 is Dublin’s postcode), he said the few years had been difficult for hospitality, but having the Ireland rugby team in town for two games had been a big boost for bars in Wellington.
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“Saturday will be unreal. It will be our greatest day since the Lions Tour (2017).”
It’s also all smiles at Sky Stadium, which sold 38,000 tickets and has the inscription “sold out”.
Stadium general manager Shane Harmon predicts a “fantastic night” for the city.
As finding enough staff had been difficult, he had employed people who had never worked on a big game at the stadium before.
“A lot of our staff will be working for the first time, so we ask people to arrive early and be patient and kind to our staff.”
He predicts the game will bring $10 million to Wellington’s economy.
An Irishman himself, he visited his native country in June for the first time in four years and is delighted to have the litmus test in Wellington.
Harmon expects a good atmosphere given the passion of Irish rugby fans.
Three who will definitely enjoy the game are Darren O’Mahoney, Augie Williams, and James Horgan.
The trio met at a bar on Friday afternoon. O’Mahoney and Horgan, from Limerick, had arrived from Australia where they worked in construction and headed straight for the bar.
Lifelong rugby fans, they followed the green jersey around Europe and looked forward to seeing their side perform well in New Zealand.
Although he predicted a “one point game”, O’Mahoney had no doubt that it would be the Irish who would be smiling at the final whistle.
“Oh, sure, we’re going to celebrate. We’re going to celebrate for six months, that’s for sure.
Williams had come from Auckland in an Irish shirt. As a Samoan, he said he tended to support the underdog and was a big fan of former Ireland manager Joe Schmidt.
Kushla Mathie, who runs Jack Hackett’s Irish Pub in Wellington, expected a “turbulent” Saturday night with fans glued to the big screen.
“I don’t know if we’ll sell as many pints as St. Patrick’s Day but it will be close.”
Eugene Wehrly, owner of Wellington bar JJ Murphy & Co was expecting nearly 800 customers on Saturday night.
He struggled to recruit staff, but said having Irish supporters in town had been good for business.
“It’s just the boost Wellington needs.”
It’s not just the bars of Wellington that are expecting a good weekend. The Hutt Valley Irish Society, based in Lower Hutt, rolled out the welcome mat.
The club has around 250 members and publicist Bryan Mulligan says everyone is welcome.
Besides playing cards and singing, he predicted that a lot of Guinness will be consumed.
MEPs particularly appreciated Ireland’s second victory in the test. “I expect that again.”
Rugby fans are reminded to get to the game early and dress warmly with the MetService predicting a clear but cool evening.