Euro dreamland for Rovers chief Roche
Published 26/08/2011 | 05:00
SHAMROCK ROVERS are aiming to stage their Europa League group games in Tallaght after a famous win in Belgrade which has left chairman Jonathan Roche pondering his club entering a "new universe".
Roche was last night figuring out how to get to Monaco today in time for a draw that opens up mouth-watering possibilities for the League of Ireland champions.
Under existing UEFA regulations, the Hoops would have to move their games to the Aviva Stadium. The alternative would be to install seats at their Tallaght home which would bring the ground up to scratch. It could well be determined by the identity of their opponents today.
An emotional Roche was struggling to take in the enormity of what Michael O'Neill and his players had achieved in the heat of the Serbian capital.
"Hopefully now, people will take everyone in Irish football -- and not just us -- seriously," said Roche, who was part of the group of fans who saved Rovers from extinction back in 2005.
"Clubs like Celtic and Rangers have gone out tonight while Shamrock Rovers are still in and representing Irish football.
"It's a massive night for the club and hopefully we can kick on from this. I think the league gets unfair criticism at times -- not from print media -- but a lot of other media that covers Irish football. Look at before this game. It wasn't going to be on TV until Setanta did it at the last minute.
"But, to be positive, it's unbelievable. We're going to Monaco tomorrow for the draw."
Of course, there are a number of factors for Rovers to deal with after this progression. As it stands, the players' contracts expire at the end of the domestic season in November.
O'Neill may now bring in new additions in the next week to supplement the existing group for a campaign that will run until the middle of December at least.
It should also secure the Northern Irishman a new contract, and the players will also be well rewarded for their achievements.
Still, with at least €1m in the coffers, and the possibility of more to be gained from the division of TV rights, they are good problems for Rovers to be waking up to after a night of celebration.