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Why angry football fans threw tennis balls on pitch during match

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By | Football

The match at the Aviva Stadium was halted as fans of the Green Army chucked the balls onto the pitch in protest. [Courtesy]

Ireland fans served up a surprise during their team's match with Georgia - by launching tennis balls on to the field.

Members of the Green Army support caused quite a racket at the Aviva Stadium, as they protested against FAI executive vice president John Delaney.

Play was held up for three minutes late in the first half while Ireland waited to take a free kick deep in Georgian territory as stewards cleared dozens of tennis balls.

Darren Randolph clears the tennis balls away. [Courtesy]

Conor Hourihane gave Ireland the lead in the Group D clash directly from the resulting free kick and the home side held on to take all three points from the Euro 2020 qualifier.

Delaney stepped down from his role as chief executive last week, after coming under scrutiny over his running of the nation’s governing body.

The 51-year-old reportedly failed in his attempt to obtain a high court injunction to prevent sections of the media revealing details of a £85,000 cheque he provided to the FAI but did not appeal in its accounts.

It was announced after Ireland's narrow victory over Gibraltar that Delaney had resigned as CEO after 14 years in the role.

Delaney's position has come under fire over the current state of the FAI, and now faces further questions over the nature of the supposed loan.

Republic of Ireland fans in the stands hold up signs about Chief Executive of the Football Association of Ireland John Delaney. [Courtesy]

Whilst it is not uncommon for a loan of this nature, it is unusual for a company of the FAI's standing to be in such a financial state as to borrow from Mr Delaney.

Furthermore, The Sunday Times reported that the FAI had been paying rent on Mr Delaney's house to the tune of £3,000.

Ireland manager Mick McCarthy hoped that fans would not protest against Delaney, but admitted he was powerless to stop it.

McCarthy said: "I can’t do anything about it. I’m not going to take a tennis racket with me. It’s not going to help us play any better, that’s for sure. I hope it’s not the case and that we can overlook that.

“The fans want us to win and to give us the best chance of that, get behind us. They're the best fans, they're fabulous and I’d like them to support the team.

"If they have to demonstrate then I’d like if they do it somewhere else and at another time."

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