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Saturday 30 August 2014

Playing Champions League tie in Ireland would be just reward for loyal Celtic fans

Cormac Byrne

Published 31/10/2013 | 11:01

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Players from both teams shake hands before the game
Players from Liverpool and Celtic teams shake hands before the game at the Aviva in August

It is a well-known fact that the vast majority of football fans in this country support a Premier League team but there are very few who don't hold a place in their heart for Glasgow Celtic.

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Founded by an Irish Marist Brother in the late 19th century, Celtic has been heavily linked to the Emerald Isle since its formation and that connection has grown from generation to generation ever since.

Success for Celtic is success for us, we may not have our own team in Europe's elite competitions every year but we always have the Glasgow giants.

It's not just history which draws Irish sports fans to the Bhoys. Their swashbuckling, physical, never-say-die style speaks to us and distinguishes them from others and endears them to us.

The news that Celtic will need a temporary home for one, and maybe two of their Champions League(should they qualify as SPL winners) games, next season while the Commonwealth Games is held in the Scottish City immediately lit lightbulbs and Celtic will be talking to UEFA about the possibility of coming to Dublin for the game.

Before we start popping the champagne and getting the next day off work, it has to be said that no decision has been made and Celtic will be under pressure to keep the game(s) in Scotland and they are also looking at playing the game at a venue in the north of England.

What plays in our favour is the hugely successful friendly Celtic had with Liverpool at the Aviva in August(where they beat the Reds 1-0).

The game provided one of the greatest atmospheres Landsdown Road has experienced since it reopened as the Aviva Stadium.

Celtic more than any team know the value of the '12th man' and they needed every ounce of energy they could absorb from the fans to beat Kazakhstan side Shakter Karagandy over two legs this year.

A competitive game for the Bhoys on Irish soil, whether it be the Aviva or Croker, would generate an amazing experience that Neil Lennon and his boys could harness.

If it's a second round qualifier, the chances of drawing a big team is remote so it won't be a big draw to neutrals in Scotland but the novelty factor would make it a massive fixture in the Irish sporting calendar and a game to remember.

Either way we'll support them but the prospect of having them here is salivating.

One potential drawback would be if the game clashed with St Patrick Athletic's Champions League adventure. Having them on back-to-back nights would be ideal but no guarantee.

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