Family loyalties could be split in the next few weeks as Ireland hopes for a big match special between two of the country’s favourite teams.
Most Irish football fans support their local teams as well as the mighty Glasgow Celtic in Scotland. Normally that doesn’t cause any problems but now the League of Ireland minnows St Patrick’s Athletic could be set to play Celtic in the Champions League qualifiers.
Sports fans across the country will be asking themselves where their loyalties lie. Do you support the tiny local team as they venture into the dangerous waters of elite European football? Or stick with the European regulars and national favourite, Glasgow Celtic?
The game would be of huge interest to football fans in Ireland. The national league is only semi-professional, with most of the country’s best talent travelling to Britain to forge a career in the game.
Therefore thousands of fans have adopted Celtic as their favourite team. They are the traditional Catholic club of Glasgow with their fierce city rivals Rangers considered the Protestant side.
This Champions League draw has thrown up a clash that could well split the nation. If both can win their next games, then they will meet at the end of the month for the chance to progress through to the main stage, where glamourous opponents such as Barcelona and Real Madrid are waiting.
It is rare for League of Ireland teams to make it into the main stage of the Champions League tournament. So, underdog supporters should certainly be on the side of St Patricks.
However, they will have their work cut out to get past Celtic. Two years ago, the Hoops managed to beat Lionel Messi’s Barcelona, who many consider to be the best side ever.
Celtic have a 1-0 advantage over Icelandic side KR Reykjavik, and will play the second leg next Tuesday. St Patrick’s host Polish side Legia Warsaw the following day with the tie finely balanced a 1-1.
Hopefully, both can do enough to go through. Then Irish football fans around the world will face the difficult task of choosing who they will be cheering on in the big one!