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Sunday, 16 June, 2002, 19:41 GMT 20:41 UK
Irish eyes are crying
Fans gathering to watch the game in Dublin
Irish fans' hopes were raised - and then dashed

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What a roller coaster of a day it has been for Republic of Ireland fans!

For most of the first half Spain had the best of the play and people consoled themselves that this was a world class side and that Ireland were just not up to their standard.

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There is a hunger here in this little Republic to participate at world level
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Irish fan
When early in the second half, Ireland's Ian Harte missed a penalty it seemed that this was not going to be Ireland's day and the fans just hoped that the team were not in for a trouncing.

But after Robbie Keane scored from a penalty people believed anything was possible.

Ireland looked like a different team in the 30 minutes of extra time and the fans thought their luck had changed.

It was a heartbreak end, when three of the Republic's players missed their penalties, children were in tears and had to be consoled by their parents.

Many adults wiped away tears as well and were lost for words.

Opening early

Teresa, from Barcelona, watched the match with a few Spanish friends in a small pub in Dublin's inner city.

An Irish supporter
Irish fans were left shattered by their team's defeat
She was happy for her homeland but said: "It is sad to lose like this. The Irish fought with such spirit. They deserved to win and now when I see how upset everyone is I don't feel like cheering."

The Hill 16 Pub is more used to fans of Gaelic games - which are national sports here.

The pub is named after the stand where Dublin fans go to watch their team but today it was a cauldron of soccer fans.

All across the city people had queued from 1000 to get into pubs which don't open until 1130 and other venues like sports clubs which had put up giant screens for the game.

The only man who wasn't wearing something green in Hill 16, stood out a mile.

Prayer power

Kevin O'Connor, in a cream suit, had just come from celebrating Bloomsday at a nearby arts centre.

Sunday - 16 June - was the anniversary of the day in 1904 when James Joyce imagined the adventures of Leopold Bloom in his book, Ulysses.

Irish fan
Some fans put their faith in divine intervention
What would Joyce have made of it all? Kevin O'Connor says he would have loved it.

"This is pure theatre," he says. "Joyce left a poverty stricken country. It has changed hugely and there is a hunger here in this little Republic to participate at world level and to find our place in the sun."

The power of prayer was also called upon.

Padre Pio, an Italian priest who is said to have borne the stigmata, the marks of the wounds of Jesus Christ, was canonised in Rome today and the ceremony was carried live on Irish television.

Irish forward Damien Duff was said to have a Padre Pio medal in his boot and his name was invoked many times during the match in hope and in anger!

But it was not to be, Ireland lost out in the penalty shootout and the dream is over.


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IRELAND 3 +3 5
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