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LOI vs Europe | Shelbourne 2004 - The Year Deportivo came to town

Enda Coll
Enda Coll

17:28 24 Jul 2019

In 2003, Deportivo de La Coruna defeated AC Milan in the Champions League quarter-final, only to be defeated by Portuguese side Porto, with a young Jose Mourinho at the helm. How then, must Stuey Byrne, Owen Heary and the rest of the Shelbourne players felt when they were drawn against the Spanish giants in Round Three of the Champions League qualifiers?

Shelbourne's road to the Champions League started with a trip to KR Reykjavik, in Iceland. Alan Moore, who had signed from Burnley that year was the hero for Pat Fenlon's side as he nicked an all-important away goal in a 2-2 draw. A scoreless draw in Tolka Park was enough to take the side into the second round.

Next up was Croatian side Hajduk Split, a difficult task by all accounts. The side travelled to Croatia in the hope of coming away with some points. Again, Alan Moore popped up with a goal, along with Glenn Fitzpatrick. Two goals weren't enough though as Shelbourne fell to a 3-2 defeat.

Tolka Park was the venue for the return leg and it was one to remember for the Shelbourne players and their fans as they pulled off a shock 2-0 win - Alan Moore and Dave Rogers grabbing the goals on the night as they became the first Irish side to reach the third qualifying round.

Their task couldn't have been bigger as they were drawn against a Deportivo side packed with star quality such as Juan Carlos Valeron - a Spanish international linked with Real Madrid at the time.

Lansdowne Road played host to the first leg as Shelbourne came away with a historic draw. But it was their performance - and that of a young Wes Hoolahan - that caught many people's imagination. They began to believe they could make it to the next round.

Ultimately they fell short in Spain, but the Champions League run remains one of the best in Irish history, with only Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk making it to the third round since.

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Read more about

Champions League Deportivo Dundalk Football Greatest League In The World La Liga League Of Ireland Off The Ball Owen Heary Pat Fenlon Shamrock Rovers Shelbourne Stuey Byrne

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