Restraint vital as Fenlon’s men bid to upset Deportivo

THE need to ignore logic and embrace the possibility of a miracle is an important asset for Shelbourne ahead of tonight’s remarkable Champions’ League qualifying tie against Deportivo La Coruna, in the Riazor Stadium.

They showed they were well capable of exercising this facility as manager Pat Fenlon wound up his preparations for the most significant club match in the history of Irish football.

Fenlon maintained his under-stated approach to a contest that holds out the promise of untold riches for Shelbourne were they to achieve what most deem impossible and slip by the Spanish giants.

Shelbourne would be guaranteed six matches against three more of Europe’s top club teams if they were to win and with that would come access to the privileged moneyed classes of international club football.

But you will not hear Shelbourne talk of such a possibility to a meaningful degree on the eve of the game.

They have in their ranks Joseph N’do of Cameroon and two players of senior international experience with Ireland - Alan Moore, with a handful of caps, Jason Byrne with one. In contrast Deportivo have an entire squad of experienced internationals including Valeron of Spain; Mauro Silva, Brazil; Andrade, Portugal; Pandiani, Uruguay.

Restraint will be vital if they are not to be sacrificed in a stadium where some of the best teams in Europe have self-destructed and been overwhelmed by the sheer quality and intensity of Deportivo’s football.

The most recent example of that was AC Milan who were crushed here 4-0 a little more than four months ago. Milan sashayed into town secure in their invincibility on the back of a 4-1 win in San Siro.

Manager Pat Fenlon was calm and serene before representatives of the European media yesterday when he said: “Obviously Deportivo are very strong in their own stadium and the fact that they conceded only one goal in the Champions’ League at home as they went all the way to the semi-final last season proves that point.

“But we have scored goals away from home in both legs this season against Reykjavik and Hajduk Split so I think we have got players well capable of scoring in most positions.”

But the hosts are not in the mood for an ambush. Deportivo striker Albert Luque is looking to repeat his feats of 12 months ago and score the goals that guarantee his side a place in the Champions League proper.

Last season a goal from Luque saw Deportivo through when they found themselves in a similar situation against Norwegian champions Rosenborg and the winger is hoping that he will be able to do the same again.

“The game against Shelbourne will be one of the most important we play this season,” said Luque, who was a key part of the Deportivo side that last season reached the semi-finals of the Champions League before finally falling to eventual winners Porto.

“Last season I was lucky to score the goal that got us past Rosenborg at the same stage and now I hope I can score another important goal,” he said.

RTÉ will provide live and exclusive coverage on Network 2 at 7.55pm.

Teams (Probable)

DEPORTIVO: Molina, Manuel Pablo, Cesar, Andrade, Romero; Victor, Mauro Silva, Sergio, Luque; Valeron, Pandiani.

SHELBOURNE: Williams; Heery, Harris, Rogers, Crawley; N’do, Stuart Byrne, Moore, Hoolahan, Cahill; Jason Byrne.

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