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5 of the most memorable nights for League of Ireland clubs in Europe

From Rovers’ Europa League exploits to Athlone’s draw with the mighty AC Milan.

MONDAY’S EUROPEAN DRAWS marked the beginning of the latest odyssey for SSE Airtricity League clubs with six sides learning their fate ahead of this year’s Champions League and Europa League campaigns.

Dundalk are the League of Ireland’s sole representative in the Champions League qualifiers while Cork City, St Patrick’s Athletic, Shamrock Rovers and UCD are all preparing for their Europa League ties.

Ahead of the first legs next week, we’ve looked back through the archives to pick out the five most memorable moments for League of Ireland clubs in Europe.

Shelbourne 0-0 Deportivo (2004)

Source: retroloi/YouTube

Under the guidance of Pat Fenlon, Shelbourne embarked on a memorable campaign as they reached the third round of the Champions League qualifiers. Victory over Hajduk Split in the previous round saw Shels become the first League of Ireland club to reach the final stage of the qualifiers and they weren’t finished there.

With the game moved to Lansdowne Road to accommodate the groundswell of interest, the Reds put in a spirited and admirable performance to hold the Spanish side, who had reached the last four of Europe’s premier club competition the year before, to a goalless draw.

Shels, who had Wes Hoolahan in their ranks, were eventually outclassed in the second leg but it was one of the finest performances by an Irish club in European competition.

Partizan 1-2 Shamrock Rovers (2011)

Source: TaLaHoOp/YouTube

After drawing 1-1 in Tallaght, not many people gave Rovers a chance going to Belgrade in the final Europa League qualifying round. What followed was arguably the greatest night in the club’s recent history.

Stephen O’Donnell’s extra-time winner sent the Hoops into the group stages as Michael O’Neill’s side became the first Irish side to ever achieve such a feat.

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Cork City 1-1 Bayern Munich (1991)

Source: scottyccfc/YouTube

The mighty Bayern Munich came to Musgrave Park for the first round of the Uefa Cup qualifiers in 1991 and were given an almighty scare.

After Dave Barry had put Cork ahead, Stefan Effenberg’s second-half equaliser spared the German’s blushes. In the second leg, two late goals saw Bayern eventually prevail 3-1 on aggregate but Noel O’Mahony’s side gave them a run for their money.

Athlone Town 0-0 AC Milan (1975)

Source: Maglia RossoneraCh/YouTube

No need to scratch your eyes, this actually happened and it could have been even more remarkable had John Minnock not missed a first-half penalty for Athlone. In the end, they had to settle for a draw with one of the most decorated clubs in European football.

Aberdeen 1-2 Bohemians (2000)

Source: Peter O DOHERTY/YouTube

Bohemians have enjoyed many memorable European nights but recording an away victory is always special. Roddy Collins’ side went to Aberdeen and came away with a slender advantage before advancing on away goals despite losing the home leg 1-0.

Were you at any of the above games or what are your memories of watching your club in Europe?

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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