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Rovers dream of Euro return

Rovers celebrate knocking Aberdeen out of the Scottish Cup
Rovers have knocked Aberdeen and Dundee out of the Scottish Cup

By Clive Lindsay

If Raith Rovers or Ross County go into this weekend's Scottish Cup semi-finals believing that dreams can't come true, they should talk to Danny Lennon.

The Cowdenbeath manager entered Scottish football folklore in 1995 when his name sat proudly on the Olympic Stadium scoreboard as it lit up with that famous scoreline: "Bayern Munich 0 Raith Rovers 1".

Lennon's side ultimately lost 2-1 to the German giants, but they gave Jurgen Klinsmann and his eventual Uefa Cup winners a mighty scare, proof that their League Cup final victory over Celtic the previous season was no fluke.

Just like the side then led by Jimmy Nicholl, John McGlynn's present Rovers side - and County too - have the chance to make a national final and qualify for European football as a First Division side.

"I think Celtic are the clear favourites for that," Lennon said of the Dingwall outfit's Saturday meeting with the Glasgow side destined to qualify through finishing second in the Scottish Premier League.

"So Rovers they have the opportunity of getting into Europe if that happens and they make the final.

"No-one will ever forget our European run, or that night in Munich."

You want to come away knowing you have put in a performance and not let yourself down

Danny Lennon

Indeed, Lennon believes Rovers will upset the odds and defeat Dundee United at Hampden on Sunday.

"John McGlynn has done a fantastic job there and his priority will be to stay in that First Division and they had a great result on Wednesday against Ayr," said the man named Second Division manager of the month for March.

"They have again beaten a few big clubs along the way and I certainly believe that they will never have a better chance of going to a Scottish Cup final.

"I am very confident for them and it's got all the makings of a wonderful semi-final.

"Dundee United are the in-form team in the Premier League at the moment and they showed their fighting spirit by coming back when Rangers thought they had it in the bag at 3-1 up in the quarter-final.

"But Rovers have a chance to make a bit of history."

The Kirkcaldy club have never won the Scottish Cup and have not featured in the semi-finals since 1963, when Celtic and United were also involved.

Rovers lost 5-2 to Celtic at Ibrox Stadium as Rangers hammered United by the same scoreline at Hampden.

Like this season, that run 47 years ago also featured victories over Aberdeen and Dundee, but Lennon is hopeful that history will not repeat with a semi-final exit.

The Cowdenbeath boss realises that, compared to a 1995 side that featured the likes of future Scotland striker Stevie Crawford and former international defender David Narey and had won promotion to the top flight, the present Rovers line-up has no real stars.

Indeed, the loss of central defender Mark Campbell to long-term injury is a worry.

"I speak to John and Paul Smith every Thursday as they have the training facilities at Cowdenbeath before we do," he said.

"They are are very, very workmanlike team and very well organised.

Cowdenbeath manager Danny Lennon
Lennon believes Rovers can upset United at Hampden

"I saw them earlier in the season and wondered about Gregory Tade up front, but it seems he just needed time to take the step up.

"Stephen Simmons in midfield is one that has always impressed me.

"Thierry Gathuessi is impressive at right back, while Iain Davidson catches the eye in midfield.

"I feel for big Mark Campbell as he has impressed me and it is a big, big miss for him."

Lennon hopes Rovers' players go to Hampden not just to enjoy the occasion but believing they can win.

"I was fortunate enough to play in three Scottish Cup semi-finals, two with Hibs and one with Partick Thistle, and they are great occasions, not just for yourself but for your family," said the former midfielder who was on the losing side on each occasion.

"You want to come away knowing you have put in a performance and not let yourself down.

"You also need a bit of luck, as Rangers had when they went down to nine men against St Mirren in the League Cup final this season."

Lennon will not be wishing Rovers well from afar on Sunday.

"I am doing a charity run for Help For Heroes in the morning but will be in the stand at Hampden in the afternoon," he said.

"It is great for the Kirkcaldy community and for Fife football for them to be there and it is always fantastic to see the underdog win.

"It's true. Dreams do come true."



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see also
Chick Young's view
06 Apr 10 |  Scottish Cups
County to attack Celtic in semis
05 Apr 10 |  Ross County
McGlynn fixture nightmare concern
09 Apr 10 |  Raith
Houston expects tough Raith tie
07 Apr 10 |  Dundee Utd
Bowman targets Scottish Cup glory
08 Apr 10 |  Dundee Utd


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