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Thursday 29 September 2016

Content LOI clubs eye Euro progress

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny Photo: David Maher
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny Photo: David Maher

Whatever happens in Lille tomorrow night, one Irish manager is hoping for a lot more matches in UEFA competition this summer as Dundalk have been handed a reasonable draw in the Champions League.

All four League of Ireland clubs will be reasonably pleased with the outcome of yesterday's draw for the preliminary rounds of the UEFA competitions.

Dundalk avoided potentially disastrous (BATE Borisov) or lucrative (Celtic) draws as they were paired with Icelandic champions FH Hafnardjodour. Cork City have a very short trek in the Europa League as they face Linfield.

St Patrick's Athletic will hope to outwit Jeunesse Esch from Luxembourg while Shamrock Rovers have a trickier test, against Finnish side RoPS Rovaniemi.

"We will be as best prepared as we can be for the tie. Our motivation is high to get through to the next round of the competition. We want to get through to the third qualifying round and make progress," said Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny.

"Progressing through guarantees you a minimum of six matches in Europe this summer with the chance of going further so we want to do that and looking forward to the challenge."

St Pat's have a good European pedigree and, aware that Irish clubs have beaten Luxembourg opposition in recent seasons, Liam Buckley's men feel they can advance to the second qualifying round where they would play opposition from either Latvia or Belarus.

Pat Fenlon will do his research on his Finnish opponents, the Hoops boss aware that RoPS are in mid-season in their league, like Rovers. Should Rovers get through to the second round they would almost certainly face up to Lokomotiv Zagreb.

For Cork City, their tie against Linfield has the major advantage in terms of logistics. "It's a great draw for the club," said manager John Caullfield.

"From a cost and travel point of view it's an easy game to get to. From the supporters' point of view it's fantastic as it gives our fans a chance of getting to the game up there."

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