Red letter day as Brendan makes dreams come true
WHEN it comes to their fans in Ireland, Liverpool can do no wrong.
Welcomes don't come any warmer than the sea of red that descended on the Aviva Stadium in Dublin last night to watch the Merseysiders take on Shamrock Rovers in a friendly match which ended 4-0 to the English giants.
An amazing 42,517 fans, the vast majority in red, showed up for the teatime encounter despite all Liverpool's World Cup-bound superstars being absent.
Antrim-born Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers made it a night to remember for one young man from Co Louth.
Conor Byrne (13) from Clogherhead, who uses a wheelchair, got to have a quick chat with the Anfield boss as he signed autographs for fans.
His face lit up with joy as Brendan stopped to talk.
One Liverpool fan revealed his family links with actress Maureen O'Hara, whose father held shares in Shamrock Rovers – but that didn't stop him from opting for the red rather than the green and white hoops. Luke McCoy from Wicklow was unapologetic, with "Ah, Liverpool," as his only explanation.
Niall O Buachalla, from Ballinteer, brought son Oisin (6) and pal Cathal Troy (6) along – both ardent Liverpool supporters, though he confessed he was a Manchester United man himself. Even the boys noticed the stark lack of Rovers' fans, revealed Niall.
"The lads were saying 'there's lots of people from Anfield, Dad, but not too many from Tallaght'."
Nothing could dent the feelgood atmosphere. Not even the banner flying over the stadium that attempted to mock Liverpool after they were pipped for the Premier League title.
Manchester United fans chartered a plane to fly the banner reading: "Giggs 13 Gerrard 0 MUFC 20 Times," in a dig at Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard and his failure to ever win the Premier League compared to United veteran Ryan Giggs, who has 13 league medals.
It was an unofficial action by fans here according to Eddie Gibbons, club secretary of the Irish Official Manchester United Supporters Club. "It was a gang of lads on Facebook, our branch had nothing to do with it," he explained, adding that he had seen an earlier Facebook posting appealing for funds to pay for the hiring of the plane.
"They must be mad. It must have cost them a fortune to get the plane and to get the banner made big enough."
Mr Gibbons said that the stunt could be viewed as "bad taste – or as a bit of craic".
"It's all part of the rivalry, once it's taken in good spirit," he said, adding that Liverpool fans pull similar stunts to rile up the United fans.