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Juve win can't spoil the party as Hoops fans enjoy dream tie

NEXT stop Modena in the Juventus/Shamrock Rovers mini-drama -- the return leg won't be in the famous Stadio Olimpico because another bunch of Dublin lads, U2, are already booked in to play.

And even after a night when Hoops fans' dreams didn't quite come true, all eyes will be on next week's return match in Italy. And the message was: "Keep on Hooping" from proud Shamrock Rovers fans in the wake of last night's 2-0 defeat to the Italian giants.

Okay, so it wasn't the epic victory they'd been hoping for, but the modest loss wasn't enough to silence the vocal 6,000-strong crowd in stadium at Tallaght last night.

It was truly a David versus Goliath battle, with the Old Lady of Turin facing down a modest team of Tallaght-based part-timers. But if the slick, stylish Juve players thought they were in line for a spot of hero worship from Dubliners, they were sadly mistaken.



Cowed

The Hoops, after all, are no strangers to the glamour fixtures. It's barely a year ago that they welcomed Real Madrid's Galacticos to Tallaght. And last night, the fans weren't about to be cowed by the sight of the multi-million euro men.

"I'm a Rovers man through and through. I've no interest in Juventus," insisted Tallaght man Garreth Mulligan. Along with friends Jasmine Doyle and Aisling Ward, he explained: "We're season ticket holders, and we're thinking of going to Italy for the second leg too."

Six-year-old Noah Smith from Walkinstown was equally loyal to the green and white stripes, enjoying a lucky break when Hoops player Enda Stevens stopped to sign an autograph for him. Throughout the day a carnival atmosphere prevailed on the streets, with supporters decked out in jerseys, head bands and hats.

Copious bottles of green hair dye did the rounds, but not even the most zealous fan could match the display of face-painted loyalty shown by Kilnamanagh kids Taylor Evans (7), Alex Keoghan (6) and Shane McGuire (7). "They're all Hoops fans, and it's all my fault," laughed Taylor's dad Leslie, who revealed he's also considering a trip to see the second leg game in Modena next week.

One man who'll certainly be making the trip is life-long supporter Stephen Callagy from Dun Laoghaire. "I've been a supporter for 20 years, all through the bad days", he said. "This is like a dream tonight."

Last night's game was a family affair for Joe Carrick, his daughter Sharon O Suilleabhain and her sons Cian (9) and Calum (5). "We're season ticket holders and we go to all the home games," said Joe.

"We're representing Ireland tonight. We've put Irish football on the map and we've put Tallaght on the map."

At the final whistle, disappointment was etched on the faces of Stephanie McGarr and Rian Young from Leixlip as they left the field of broken dreams.

"I thought they'd have scored once," admitted Rian.

Devoted fan Carol Daly from Drimnagh was more philosophical, pointing out: "It was always going to be hard to get a result, but I think they played well and they gave it their best shot."

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