Thursday 8 December 2016

WATCH - Stephen Kenny challenges his Dundalk players to claim Champions League berth

Published 02/08/2016 | 22:41

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny with his two sons, Eoin, age 10, and Fionn, age 12, after the UEFA Champions League Third Qualifying Round 2nd Leg match between Dundalk and BATE Borisov at Tallaght Stadium in Tallaght, Co. Dublin. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny with his two sons, Eoin, age 10, and Fionn, age 12, after the UEFA Champions League Third Qualifying Round 2nd Leg match between Dundalk and BATE Borisov at Tallaght Stadium in Tallaght, Co. Dublin. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

Stephen Kenny has challenged his players to qualify for the Champions League group stages after Dundalk's wonderful 3-0 victory over BATE Borisov in tonight's Champions League third-round qualifier at Tallaght Stadium.

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David McMillan's stunning brace and Robbie Benson's calmly-taken insurance goal have had the benefit of ensuring Stephen Kenny's men a spot in the Europa League, irrespective of what happens in their final qualifier.

Given the quality of their performance, most notably in the second-half, Dundalk can harbour geniune grounds of optimism for a prolonged European campaign.  

Speaking to eir Sport, Stephen Kenny was adamant that his team would not be settling for a Europa League place.

"It's a special night. We're in the fourth round now so we want to go into the Champions League and that's the way we should look at it," he said

"We are delighted because we know we're in the group stages of European competition which is amazing for a club with the facilities we have and a club our size. To be in the group stages of European competition with all those massive clubs is a bit special.

"We have to start thinking about getting into the Champions League now because they (Bate) are in it for the last five years and they beat Roma and they drew with Bayern.

"They're a good team and we played them off the park overall.

"I feel that we shouldn't limit ourselves and thinking 'that's it', we have to see what the draw brings on Friday. We've no time to celebrate this, we're playing in two-and-a-half days.

"We've a three-and-a-half hour journey to Galway on Friday morning."

Dundalk skipper Stephen O'Donnell hailed the victory as a triumph for the Aitricity League.

"No one was giving us a chance," he said.

"We had a meeting last night and everyone believed we could do it.

"We knew if we could get in after them... we didn't play at all well last week, wrost we could have played, and we came away with a 1-0 and that was crucial.

"We played more to our ability tonight and I think we were deserved 3-0 winners.

"This is the best ever.

"All we wanted is respect for this league and players playing in this league. There are some decent players and this is for everyone who plays in the league not just Dundalk. Maybe now we won't be a bit of a laughing stock.

"We showed we can compete and you saw the likes of Daryl Horgan and Patrick McEleney tonight, could grace any stage.

"You're not going to tell me that they're not as good as players playing at a higher level. Unbelievable from the whole team.

Watch all three goals below:

"Hopefully this is the start of our adventures."

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