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56 years ago: Shamrock Rovers met the Busby Babes in Europe

It was the first time a League of Ireland team featured in the prestigious competition.

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Credit: ShamrockRovers.ie

YESTERDAY MARKED the anniversary of an Irish club participating in the European Cup for the first time.

On 25 September 1957,  League of Ireland champions Shamrock Rovers welcomed the Busby Babes to Dublin for the first of a two legs in the preliminary round.

The Munich Air Disaster, which ripped the heart out of Manchester United’s star-studded team, was still five months away and Duncan Edwards, Roger Byrne, David Pegg and Tommy Taylor all lined out for the English champions.

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Credit: ShamrockRovers.ie

The home side featured future Ireland manager Liam Tuohy in their ranks while 45,000 fans showed up at Dalymount Park for the match.

In his programme notes, Rovers chairman Joseph Cunningham paid tribute to their opponents.

“This evening it is my privilege and pleasure on the behalf of my Co-Directors, to extend Manchester United a sincere and hearty welcome to Dublin…”

“To the men who have substantially helped to put this team on the field — Directors, Manager, Coach, Trainer, Scouts, etc. — we owe a debt.

“In this connection I sincerely suggest that when the Manchester United team make their appearance on the field of play to-night we would like them to know that the welcome is not only a salute to a great team, but also salute to the “Backroom Boys” who have moulded the team to its present greatness.”

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Credit: ShamrockRovers.ie

The game itself saw United win out comfortably – recording a 6-0 away win to effectively end the tie as a contest. Two weeks later, however, the Hoops did manage to save some face by going down by a single goal 3-2 at Old Trafford.

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