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Tiny stadium means tickets are like gold dust for Trap's Army

DISAPPOINTED Republic of Ireland fans have descended on the Ramblas, Barcelona's party district, desperately searching for tickets for the first of two crunch Euro 2012 qualifiers in Andorra.

Many booked hotels anticipating that the Andorran FA would agree to play in Barcelona's training stadium near the Camp Nou but thanks to Dick Advocaat and the Russian FA's insistence that the game is played in the tiny principality's even tinier national stadium, only 300 Irish fans will be accommodated.

That leaves room for 1,000 locals and Ireland fans are hoping that with nothing left to play for in Euro 2012 Group B, Andorrans will be happy to sell on tickets for the Estadi Comunal d'Andorra la Vella.

Irish bars were packed to the doors last night while angry fans scoured Barcelona for tickets or at the very least, a venue to watch the game if the worst happens.

But there was some consolation with the news that the FAI and 3 mobile have arranged events in Irish bars on the Ramblas tonight and on the night of the game to cope with up to 3,000 ticketless supporters.

Two tickets will be raffled in three pubs on the Ramblas this evening -- Dunnes, Flahertys and the George Payne, which have a capacity of 1,500 and enough plasma screens to satisfy an army.

The FAI have reduced their official party to a bare minimum to make as many tickets available to fans as possible.

Meanwhile, some intrepid supporters have booked into a camp site which overlooks the Estadio Communal where the game will be played.

"We just don't know how many Irish fans will turn up but we're doing all we can to make sure they get to see the game even if they can't be there in the flesh," said FAI PR Director Peter Sherrard.

The FAI have stepped up their charm offensive ahead of the Group B showdown against Armenia and have an announced an open training session for fans in the Tallaght Stadium next Saturday.

Admission is free and the stadium will open at 2pm for anyone who wants a close-up view of Giovanni Trapattoni and his players.

hnews@herald.ie