Lifelong Rovers fans savour cup success

by Dave Donnelly

Shamrock Rovers fans got an opportunity to celebrate their first FAI Cup in 32 years when the staff and squad brought the trophy to the Terenure Inn on Monday night.

The Hoops are the League of Ireland’s most successful side with 17 league titles and, before Sunday, had 24 FAI Cup medals in their trophy cabinet.

It had been 32 years since Rovers had won the cup, however, as the club endured more than 20 years without a home ground and had spells in the RDS, Santry, Dalymount Park and Richmond Park.

Rovers won back-to-back league titles under Michael O’Neill, now Northern Ireland manager, in 2010 and 2011 and became the first Irish side to reach the group stages of the Europa League.

There was a sense that the one missing piece in the jigsaw since moving to their new home in Tallaght was a cup triumph and they delivered on Sunday thanks to a penalty shoot-out win.

“It’s unreal,” Bill Gleeson, head of the Junior Hoops chapter and a fan of the club since the 1980s, told the Dublin Gazette.

“I’m in my 40s and I’m been following Rovers since I was a kid. I wasn’t allowed go to the cup finals in the 80s. [My parents] weren’t sending a young primary school kid over to Dalymount Park.

“By the time 91 comes around, I’m turning up to finals and you’re expecting Rovers to win, and the reality is there’s a long road we’ve travelled to get to where we are today.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling, and I think it’s been amplified by the bond that the team has built with the supporters. I haven’t seen it anywhere in the football I’ve followed at home or abroad.”

Lifelong fan Mick Kearns added: “I watch the team week-in, week-out, home and away, and to win the Cup after 32 years is off the wall.

“I wanted to win the cup more than anything, and we’ve achieved it. It kind of closes the door on the loss of Milltown because it was the only trophy we had never won since Milltown went.

“That was really important, mentally. For the players to have achieved it, they’re now down in the folklore and history of the club, and you can’t ask for more.

“When the ghastly deed of selling Milltown was achieved by the Kilcoyne brothers, Martin and Paddy, in 1987, I made a personal plea to myself to do whatever I could do to get the club a home again.

“We achieved it because the fanbase galvanised and we got together and got there eventually after many a court case and many a battle with different groups.”

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