Friday 22 February 2019

Aviva fixture clash looms after Bohs' favourable Euro draw

Pat Fenlon: one game at a time.
Pat Fenlon: one game at a time.

Neil Ahern

THE CHANCES of an embarrassing clash between the FAI's marquee opening fixture in the Aviva Stadium and one of the biggest games of the year on the domestic calendar increased yesterday when the draw was made for the qualifying rounds of the Champions League.

Bohemians will face Welsh champions The New Saints in the second qualification round of Europe's most prestigious club competition, with the home leg taking place on Tuesday, July 13 at Dalymount Park and the return tie on the Welsh-English border the following Tuesday.

Having disposed of Welsh side Rhyl on a 9-3 aggregate scoreline in the 2008 Intertoto Cup, Bohs will be confident of progressing.

If they do, it could mean a fixture clash with the League of Ireland v Manchester United friendly at the Aviva Stadium on August 4 as the second leg of Bohs' third-round tie would take place either that very night or the previous night.

For the moment, though, Gypsies manager Pat Fenlon is concerned only with beating The New Saints.

"From a logistical point of view, this is the draw we wanted, but in every other sense it's not a good draw for us.

"They won't be anything like Rhyl. They've come up against some big sides in Europe and they did very well in their last league campaign," said Fenlon of the Welsh team, formerly known as Total Network Solutions.

The away leg will take place in the modest surroundings of Park Hall in Oswestry, just over the English border, which has only 1,000 seats and also features a synthetic surface.

In the Europa League, Sporting Fingal were handed a nightmare second-round draw against CS Maritimo, who finished fifth in last season's Portuguese Premier League and are based on the island of Madeira.

Shamrock Rovers were also handed a potentially arduous journey in their second qualification-round clash as they will take on either FC Ulysses of Armenia or Bnei Yehuda of Israel.

Dundalk face a more straight-forward trip to Grevenmacher, of Luxembourg, for their first-round tie, but the formidable Levski Sofia, of Bulgaria, await in the second round should the Lilywhites' progress.

Champions League -- second qualifying round: Bohemians v The New Saints (Wales). First leg Tuesday, July 13, second leg July 20.

Europa League -- first qualifying round: Grevenmacher (Luxembourg) Dundalk. First leg Thursday July 1, second leg Thursday, July 8.

Second qualifying round: Shamrock Rovers v FC Ulysses (Armenia) / Bnei Yehuda (Israel), CS Maritimo (Portugal) v Sporting Fingal, Levski Sofia v Dundalk / Grevenmacher. Dates to be confirmed.

Irish Independent

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