Rogers: 'Europe's where you really test yourself'

Gary Rogers

Aidan Fitzmaurice

They have conquered Ireland, and now Dundalk admit that they need to make an impact on the European stage next season.

This week will be one of extended celebrations for Stephen Kenny's squad after they sealed a league and cup double with Sunday's 2-1 defeat of previous holders Cork City in the FAI Cup final.

Some Dundalk players have hinted that the American owners of the club, Peak6, could reward them with a trip to Las Vegas, as is common with cross-channel teams, though Dundalk 'keeper Gary Rogers is not so sure about a jaunt to Sin City.

"I don't know if my missus would let me go to Vegas. I'd be doing well to get away on a holiday for a week," he joked.

But Rogers and the rest of the Dundalk camp are deadly serious about making a splash in Europe in 2018.

"European competition was the one blot on the copybook for Dundalk in 2018 as 4-0 loss away to Cypriot side Larnaca, after a 0-0 draw in the home leg in the Europa League, saw them exit earlier than planned.

Dundalk return to the Champions League next summer and that's now a major aim for Rogers.

"When it comes that time of year, you try and peak and focus in to be successful in Europe. It's the one major thing this league can give you that England can't apart from a very few players," said Rogers.

"There are not a lot of Irish players playing in Europe and we have the opportunity nearly every year to play in Europe and test yourselves against the best there is.

"We've done well in that department, apart from a bad half this year but overall we have coped really well with Europe and acquitted ourselves really well over a number of years. That will be the challenge next year.

"You have to be thinking that way, to be wanting to win trophies and do well in Europe.

"The European success two years ago is something we want to replicate next year and that's the target. You have to set yourself these aims, for real big days in Europe.

"To achieve that you have to put in the hard yards all season long and make the sacrifices.

"All players in this group have made those sacrifices this year and it's why we've come along and got the double in the bag," added the 37-year-old Rogers.

"Losing the final last year was probably worse than the year before when we had games to come in Europe, but last year you had a long off season to deliberate and ask questions of yourself before coming back to do it all again.

"It's great to be on the other side of it this year but to stay there you have to work as hard as ever and that will be my intention and the rest of the group, to come back strong next year and to try retain those trophies.

"That is always a challenge," added the Meath native, contracted to Dundalk for next season.