Friday 30 September 2016

UCD striker Robbie Benson wants to replicate heroics of Irish teams in Europe

Published 02/07/2015 | 02:30

UCD attacker Robbie Benson is hoping that his side can cause a major upset in Europe this evening when they take on F91 Dudelange
UCD attacker Robbie Benson is hoping that his side can cause a major upset in Europe this evening when they take on F91 Dudelange

UCD attacker Robbie Benson is hoping that his side can cause a major upset in Europe this evening when they take on Luxembourg outfit F91 Dudelange (7.45).

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Manager Collie O'Neill described his players as "like kids on the night before Christmas", and Benson is seeking inspiration from Shelbourne's heroics against Deportivo de La Coruña in 2004.

"It's new to all of us. A lot of the players would have grown watching the Irish teams in Europe," Benson said. "I remember watching Shels playing Deportivo. I think that's the one that stands out for everyone.

"I remember watching it when I was really small and thinking 'they're so close'. In recent times, I suppose it hasn't been as good, aside from Shamrock Rovers.

"Hopefully we can get a good run for ourselves and be mentioned spoken in those circles."

Benson is relishing the prospect of testing himself in Europe and knows what's expected from him and his team-mates.

"It was a good surprise for us (to qualify via fair play rules). It's going to be a nice adventure. It's the level everyone wants to be playing at," he said.

Having been relegated to the First Division last season, O'Neill knows that his side will have to step it up against what he classes as a team akin to a mid-table Premier side.

UCD's most famous European moment came in 1984 when they almost stunned Everton in the European Cup Winners' Cup; as O'Neill points out, the majority of his young squad weren't even born back then.

"We've done our homework on them. We've had a couple of DVDs and we know that they're a big, strong and physical side," O'Neill said.

"It's not going to be easy, especially with us being so young and inexperienced. Half of our players weren't even born when we played Everton.

"That's what I find bizarre: ask them if they remember Italia 90 or USA 94, and they don't remember half of the World Cup games. We'll approach this in a fresh way."

Irish Independent

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