While Irish interest in European competition has ended for another season, Pundit Arena looks back at the 50 best performances from League of Ireland clubs in Europe, starting with numbers 50 to 41.
50. Juventus 1-0 SHAMROCK ROVERS, Europa League, 2010/11
One of just four defeats to feature in our top 50, we feel this result more than warrants its place, considering there’s little shame in a narrow defeat away to a European powerhouse such as Juventus.
Plus, there’s the fact we love any excuse to show this goal again, and even though it inexplicably won the MNS goal of the season, take a bow Alessandro Del Piero…
49. DROGHEDA UNITED 0-0 Malmö, Europa League, 2013/14
Mick Cooke’s unfashionable, yet effective Drogheda United took the field with the more illustrious Malmö, once European Cup finalists, in 2013.
Drogheda earned a hard-fought 0-0 draw at ‘home’ and were even denied what looked to be a blatant penalty. However, they lost 2-0 in Sweden a week later and therefore exited the competition.
48. SLIGO ROVERS 0-0 Heerenveen, Intertoto Cup, 1996
Steve Cotterill, current manager of Bristol City, guided Sligo Rovers to a third place finish and qualification to the much maligned Intertoto Cup in 1996.
In a group of five teams, they opened with a very credible scoreless draw with Dutch opponents Heerenveen, who featured a young Jon Dahl Tomasson…
47. BOHEMIANS 0-0 Steaua Bucharest, Cup Winners’ Cup, 1992/93
Bohemians faced former European champions Steaua Bucharest at Dalymount Park in 1992 – in fact Steaua had been beaten European Cup finalists just three years previous.
The match itself wasn’t a classic by any means but Bohs held the Romanians to a 0-0 draw, keeping them from finding an away goal.
46. DROGHEDA UNITED 3-1 HJK Helsinki, UEFA Cup, 2006/07
The first leg in Finland had finished 1-1, with Shane Robinson grabbing a crucial away goal before the return leg, which was played in Dublin.
Disaster struck when Farid Ghazi scored for Helsinki but defender Graham Gartland’s 57th minute goal sent the match into extra-time.
Two penalties from right-back Damian Lynch meant Drogheda would face IK Start in the next round, but lost against the Norwegians on penalties.
45. F91 Dudelange 2-1 UCD, Europa League, 2015/16
A defeat to a side from Luxembourg featuring on this list is likely to raise a few eyebrows, but unless you’ve been living under a stone for the last couple of months, you’ll know why it’s here.
The 10 men of UCD put in a quite heroic display, defending everything that Dudelange threw at them in order to progress to the next round, where they bravely lost to Slovan Bratislava.
44. DUNDALK 1-0 Hajduk Split, Cup Winners’ Cup, 1977/78
As expected, Hajduk Split dominated the early stages of the match and even had a goal disallowed within 50 seconds of the kick-off.
Dundalk gradually settled into the match however, and scored a dramatic winning goal right at the death when Terry Flanagan hammered home a shot.
In the second leg, this happened unfortunately…
43. CORK CITY 1-0 NEC Nijmegan, Intertoto Cup, 2004
After a 0-0 draw in Holland, Cork City knew they would have to keep out NEC Nijmegan whilst trying to find the net themselves.
That moment came in the 47th minute, when none other than Kevin Doyle sent Cork into the next round, where they were eliminated by Nantes.
42. SLIGO ROVERS 3-3 Nantes, Intertoto Cup, 1996
Sligo Rovers faced Nantes, who had just three months previously been eliminated in the semi-finals of the Champions League by eventual winners Juventus, having won the French title in 1995.
In a frantic opening 25 minutes, Sligo went 2-0 ahead thanks to goals from Johnny Kenny and Dale Hawtin, though Nantes restored parity almost immediately, with two quick-fire goals from Jocelyn Gourvennec and Japhet N’Doram.
Disaster struck for the Bit O’ Red on 70 minutes, when Daniel Moreno conceded a penalty, which Gourvennec duly dispatched to give Nantes the lead but the drama wasn’t finished just yet, as Lee Thew nicked an equaliser for Sligo.
41. Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 SHAMROCK ROVERS, Europa League, 2011/12
One of very few examples of a defeat in our countdown, this match was made more memorable by the Shamrock Rovers fans showing up their English counterparts.
Goals from Roman Pavlyuchenko, Jermain Defoe and Giovani dos Santos may have won the game for Spurs, but we’ll never forget the moment Stephen Rice gave Rovers the lead.
Keep an eye out for the second part of the Top 50, coming next week on Pundit Arena.
Niall Newberry, Pundit Arena