Hearing the fans singing Amhrán na bhFiann for the first time in two years was spine tingling
Stephen Kenny was beaming.
It's a tired old saying at this stage, but Jesus, football is nothing without the fans, and to have them back in the Aviva Stadium has just amplified the occasion tenfold.
The roar when Seamus Colman led the Irish team out of the tunnel was reminiscent of the war cries you would hear in movies, before the antagonist goes into battle.
However, the real magic occurred during the national anthems. Nothing but respect when Azerbaijan played their anthem, but then Amhrán na bhFiann began.
Great to have the fans back!!
Kenny's face after the anthems said it all! 🇮🇪 pic.twitter.com/cg53Uw4T3J
— Pat McCarry (@patmccarry) September 4, 2021
The entire place lifted, fans exploding with all of the pent up passion they have been harbouring for these past two years, the feeling of togetherness, of unity, and a statement that screams 'We're back!'
The best bit was yet to come as the last note was held, and the fans began their thunderous applause followed by calls of 'COME ON IRELAND!'
Even the biggest football cynic would struggle to to be moved by the power of this fan-sang anthem returning to the Aviva Stadium.
Stephen Kenny was grinning from ear to ear, no need to keep a game face on this occasion, just soak it up and enjoy it.
If you weren't pumped up beforehand, you are now.