Can Dundalk Reach The Last 32 Of The Europa League?

Cian Moore

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Are Dundalk about to go where no Irish team has gone before?

After an exhilarating season for the League of Ireland champions, Dundalk find themselves on the brink of the unprecedented as far as Irish Football goes.

If they win tonight against Israeli opponents Maccabi Tel Aviv , they will go where no other football club in the history of Ireland has gone; the last 32 of the Europa league.

With on the major task ahead of Dundalk, Extratime.ie match reporter Harry Manning gives us his views on their chances of achieving qualification:

 I think Dundalk have a fantastic chance of winning tomorrow night’s game but unfortunately as it stands qualification is out of their hands after they lost against Alkmaar last month and they face a Zenit side who have already comfortably qualified so there’s a chance they won’t field a strong team against the Dutch men.

Although, the outcome of the Az Alkamaar’s game vs Zenit will have a massive baring on whether Dundalk proceed, Manning went on to explain how Dundalk’s resilience can get them over the line:

 They already know they can beat Tel Aviv as they showed in the 1-0 win at Tallaght Stadium. Daryl Horgan was quiet in the defeat to AZ so he’ll be raring to redeem himself and shine once again on the big stage and with the LOI season now over, Dundalk have actually had time to rest and prepare fully for this tie so hopefully they can get the three points and with a bit of luck coming from the other game they can get through.

Tallaght Stadium, where Dundal have played all their home games in the group stage - Credit ( Diego Sideburns
Tallaght Stadium, where Dundalk have played all their home games in the group stage – Credit ( Diego Sideburns)

Even if they fall at the hurdle presented in front of them tonight, Manning went on to highlight how this run has effected Irish Football and what it means for future clubs competing in European competitions:

The run has already had a tremendous effect over Irish football as its attracted a new audience to the league which is exactly what it needs to progress.

The progress Dundalk have made from this run is extraordinary and hopefully the rest of the league can follow the path they’ve paved but it’s ultimately down to people going to games. Hopefully when the league returns at the end of next February we’ll see a big difference in attendance figures around the country.

Whether Dundalk’s run this season will ever be emulated it’s difficult to say but since the start of the decade we’ve already seen Rovers qualify for the Europa League and now of course Dundalk so really anything is possible!

With the group so open and three teams a vying for 2nd place, it remains to be seen what faith has in store for the Louth side, but one things for sure they’ve laid the foundations for Irish Football to excel in years to come.

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Cian Moore