Football

Momentous Night For Dundalk As They Reach Europa League Group Stages

Momentous Night For Dundalk As They Reach Europa League Group Stages

Dundalk have qualified for the Europa League group stage after a 3-1 win over Faroe Islands champions Klaksvíkar Ítróttarfelag at the Aviva Stadium this evening, reaching the competition proper for only the second time in their history.

The League of Ireland side entered the game as slight favourites, with the visitors offering a genuine threat having emerged as convincing 6-1 win winners over Dinamo Tbilisi in the last round.

It was a tense opening to the game, with neither side crafting many openings. Patrick McEleney was the only one to threaten the KI goal, with his long range effort stinging the palms of the opposition goalkeeper.

The visiting team were restricted mostly to set-pieces, with Dundalk taking the lead in the 33rd minute.

Sean Murray was the man who got the goal, bravely rising to meet Hoban's looping header.

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Dundalk got off to a dream start in the second half, doubling their lead inside the first couple of minutes.

It came from a set-piece, with Daniel Cleary the quickest to react after the KI goalkeeper allowed the ball to drop in the penalty area.

KI responded by turning up the pressure, with a brilliant Gary Rogers save followed by a couple of goal line clearances during a mad sequence of play.

They continued to turn the screw, making the breakthrough in the 65 minute. It was an excellent long-range striker, but the slight deflection was enough to take it beyond the outstretched Rogers.

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It looked like the Faroese side were on the verge of securing an equaliser after missing a number of good opportunities, but Dundalk would secure the result with ten minutes to go.

It was a counterattacking goal, with Daniel Kelly making the most of the opposition numbers forward to score on the break.

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The two-goal deficit ultimately proved too much to overcome, with Dundalk advancing.

Not only is there a huge amount of prestige involved in qualifying for the Europa League group stage, but the financial rewards will be an incredible boost.

Reaching that stage of the competition will see the club pocket over €3million, a huge boost in the current financial climate.

Dundalk will learn who their opponents will be when the group stage draw takes place tomorrow afternoon, with a number of European heavyweights included.

See Also: The Biggest Selection Headaches Facing Kenny Ahead Of Slovakia Play-Off

Gary Connaughton

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