Kenny fearful of Europa nightmare
Published 05/09/2016 | 02:30
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny is afraid that his team will be completely unprepared for the Europa League because of their hectic schedule.
Kenny fears that the Lilywhites will be incapable of doing themselves justice on the big stage because they have to fit in 11 league matches between now and the end of October - in tandem with FAI Cup commitments and their first three games in Europe's second most important club competition.
The Dundalk boss wanted the season extended to allow them some breathing room, but that is a non-runner. The best they can hope for is having their final match against Galway, which is scheduled for Friday October 28, put back by a couple of days.
In the short term, they have a League match against Sligo Rovers tomorrow at the Showgrounds, their FAI Cup quarter-final against UCD on Friday and then another League match at home to Finn Harps next Monday. They start their Europa League group campaign away to AZ Alkmaar three days later.
"It just means that you are going into the Europa League with both arms tied around your back, really," said Kenny.
"There's no way you can play to the level that you need to play to if it's your fifth game in 13 days. I'm just disappointed we're going into the Europa League games and we're nearly throwing the white towel in before we even go into them.
"We'll be very ill-prepared and that's what kills me. We had a week to prepare for the other (European) games and we needed it because we are looking to play at a level way beyond ourselves.
"We won't be able to speak about AZ until after the Finn Harps match next Monday."
Dundalk are paying the penalty for having matches postponements during the early phase of their European adventure - they didn't play a League game between July 5 and August 5.
When Shamrock Rovers reached the group stages of the Europpa League in 2011, their autumn schedule was lighter because they re-arranged two league fixtures in the summer.
Kenny argues that he envisaged this problem back in January and made several attempts to have some of their matches rescheduled.
"We are victims of our own success," said Kenny. "I'm not whining about it. It could be worse - you could be out of everything."
Meanwhile, the Longford Town v Bray Wanderers match that was postopned on Saturday due to a waterlogged pitch has been re-arrranged for next Saturday at the City Calling Stadium (7.30).
No new date has yet been announced for the Sligo Rovers v Finn Harps match that was abandoned at the Showgrounds.