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Juve squad enjoy all the luxuries of footie favourite carton house

JUVENTUS and their €250m squad have been kicking back in Co Kildare ahead of tonight's encounter with Shamrock Rovers.

The Italian giants enjoyed some R&R at Carton House in Maynooth, with the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, David Trezeguet and Gianluigi Buffon preparing for this evening's Europa League tie at the Tallaght Stadium.

The 'Old Lady' players touched down in Dublin yesterday and went straight for the luxury hotel and golf resort, made famous by the Colm Montgomerie and Mark O'Meara championship golf courses.

The team enjoyed a relatively low profile at the hotel, but were more than happy to pose for photographs.

Juventus president Jean-Claude Blanc enjoyed his walk around the hotel yesterday, and with his jacket casually thrown over his shoulder and chatting on his phone, he seemed relatively at ease ahead of today's game.

The Juventus players were also spotted training in Rovers' Tallaght Stadium yesterday evening, where manager Luigi Del Neri looked a bit more perturbed about the game ahead.

Shamrock Rovers seemed to be taking the training in their stride and although they looked a bit more tense, were still spotted laughing and smiling.

Carton House is fast becoming the official hotspot for visiting footballers -- most famously with Real Madrid staying there last summer for their pre-season training.

And they are not short of big names at the moment, with Spanish team Villarreal also staying there for their pre-season tour.

The Spanish players were seemingly unaffected by their celebrity status as they also took time to give autographs to waiting fans.

The Juventus boys have been taking it easy ahead of today's match, opting for a quiet lunch then relaxing in their rooms before yesterday evening's training session.

Two fans particularly thrilled at getting their signatures were Dave Meriman and Pierce Desmond (both 13), from Maynooth.


"All of them signed autographs or stood for pictures. They are my favourite team from Italy," Dave said.

"They were nice guys and allowed us to take pictures and sign autographs," said Pierce.

After this evening's match against the Hoops, Juventus are expected to head back to Dublin Airport, where they will be flown home just before midnight.

See Sport, pages 78-79