It was a night of what could have been for Shamrock Rovers as they lost 3-1 to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane despite a brave performance in their Europa League encounter.
Rovers took the unlikeliest of leads five minutes after half-time but Spurs hit-back with three goals in seven minutes to end any chance of an upset.
Despite taking the lead Micheal O'Neill's men were always on the back-foot against their illustrious opponents - who had several full internationals in their line-up.
The Hoops did well to get in at the break level with goalkeeper Richard Brush having an outstanding game, making save after save.
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said before the game he would rest key players for their crunch game with Arsenal at the weekend but they could still afford to send out players like Jermain Defoe and Aaron Lennon who terrorised Rovers all night.
Giovani Dos Santos was the first to really threaten the Rovers goal and it only took two minutes but Brush got down well to save, something he did over and over again throughout the first-half.
The Mexican again troubled the Hoops defence on the ten minute mark with another shot from distance but Brush was again on hand and saved comfortably.
It was certainly all Spurs in the first-half and Defoe almost put his side into the lead on 15 minutes but for another save from Brush, who managed to block with his body and turn the ball onto the bar. Lennon, who was coming back from injury, played in Roman Pavlyuchenko on 19 minuted but yet again Brush denied the English side from scoring with a fantastic one-handed save.
Rovers didn't show much in the first-half going forward. Gary McCabe had a half chance midway through the first-half when he cut in on the right-wing but his effort never looked like troubling Carlo Cudicini in the Spurs goal.
It looked certain Rovers would go in at the break a goal down when Danny Rose finally had Brush beaten with 33 minutes gone but the crossbar came to the Hoops' rescue for a second time.
The Irish side were defending admirably and had Stephen O'Donnell to thank after his goal line clearance kept a Pavlyuchenko header from crossing the line just on half-time.
After getting in at half-time all square Rovers dared to dream and their dreams became a reality after five minutes of the second-half when Stephen Rice gave them the lead. A free-kick right on the edge of the box was well hit by Gary McCabe, Cudicini saved but the ball eventually fell to Pat Sullivan and his low drive deflected off Stephen Rice to send the large Hoops support into euphoria.
But the joy of taking the lead didn't last long and dreams of a historic result were crushed just ten minutes later when two headed goals inside two minutes gave Tottenham the lead.
First Pavlyuchenko got on the end of a Di Santos cross to get Tottenham back on level terms and then, in what was almost a copy of Tottenham's first, Defoe made it 2-1 after a cross from the left by Andros Townsend.
It was then game, set and match when Defoe made it 3-1 on 65 minutes. The English international won the ball back inside his own half, shrugged off a challenge from Conor McCormack and teed off Di Santos who finished beautifully past the helpless Brush.
You have to admire Rovers battling on and keeping the score at 3-1 after the disappointment of letting their lead slip. They faced an onslaught late in the game, but managed to not concede a fourth thanks to a mix of incredible goalkeeping and defending. Michael O'Neill's men now take a break from Europa League action as they prepare for a must win game against Drogheda United on Sunday.
Tottenham Hotspur: Cudicini; Rose (Kane 79), Corluka, Bassong, Walker; Carroll, Livermore, dos Santos, Lennon (Townsend 45); Pavlyuchenko, Defoe (Falque 72).
Substitutes not used: Gomes; Bale, Kaboul, Modric.