John Delaney adapted the old maxim that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach when he stumped up to save the day for stranded Irish fans in Slovakia last week.

As well as arranging a free train and corporate tickets at knockdown prices, the FAI chief executive forked out €5,000 from his own pocket for a consignment of Carlsberg for around 150 recession-proof supporters discommoded by the late venue change for Tuesday’s Euro 2010 qualifier.

Further transforming his cred’, Delaney could be seen supping from a can himself as supporters swarmed to thank him and carry him shoulder-high from the platform after the 200km transfer from Bratislava to the Zilina. (Shades of Davy Fitz at Plunkett Station after the ’08 All-Ireland semi-final; oh the innocence of it all.)

It was a throwback to the ‘Jackie’s Army’ era, when fans and players would mingle in high spirits — and often it was the latter who were the last ones to hit the cot.

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