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... but a dose of the blues for soccer fans as Boys in Green draw a blank

TUESDAY'S road to Russia just got a whole lot longer.

"Our weapons are ready," declared Giovanni Trapattoni, but it quickly became clear that they were not weapons of mass destruction. You could feel the anticipation in the air.

And as a sea of green flowed along Lansdowne Road, you couldn't help but think 'just maybe'.

Just maybe Trap would unleash a tactical master plan. Just maybe we would nick an early goal. Just maybe, this would be the result that secured Ireland a ticket to the Euro 2012 finals.

"It's what we all need isn't it, a bit of success in the sporting arena to take our minds off the doom and gloom," Sean Buckley from Co Dublin told the Herald.

Indeed the country's hopes were resting on one grey-haired Italian general and eleven Irish troops.

Loud choruses of cheers belted throughout the Aviva from early on -- not from the Irish contingent, but from their Slovak counterparts.

Finally, after 33 minutes, Irish accents boomed across the stadium.

But as the spectacle drew on, the fans became weary.

And it was almost like the script had been written.

Ireland would try hard, play far from sexy football but be granted one opportunity to win the game.

Who else would it fall to but Robbie Keane?

And LA's newest resident will rarely be gifted such an opportunity to raise the spirits of an entire nation.

His free header just yards from the Slovak goal will be seen by many as our passport to Denmark and Poland. It wasn't to be. "There was just no creativity in the middle of the park," said Paul Galvin, of Co Offaly.

On a brighter note, the visitors seemed to have enjoyed their trip to the capital. Slovakian Robert Karznak told the Herald: "We had a good time. The Irish have been very welcoming."

But Trap's hope might just spring eternal on Tuesday.