Monday 19 March 2018

Buckley aims to restore Irish pride in Europe with progress for Sporting

Stephen Finn

SPORTING FINGAL insist they will not be weighed down by any increased expectancy in their Europa League clash with Maritimo tonight due to the shock capitulation of Bohemians.

Many Airtricity League fans would have been horrified when they heard the result of the TNS-Bohemians clash in the Champions League qualifiers on Tuesday.

For a league that constantly struggles for credibility in the eyes of the general public, seeing their champions hammered 4-0 by a Welsh outfit can not have helped.

However, Sporting Fingal could redress the balance somewhat if they claim the scalp of their Portuguese opponents at Dalymount Park.

Trailing 3-2 from the first leg -- and that due to a 95th-minute winner -- Liam Buckley's side can head into the second leg with real belief that an upset is possible.

"We're all League of Ireland supporters when our clubs are in Europe," said the Fingal boss.

"I was hoping Bohs would win this week and I hope Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk and ourselves all win our games tonight.

"Wins in these games are important for the whole league as coefficients go up and increase the possibility of our clubs being seeded in next year's draw."


Glen Crowe recaptured the goal-scoring record for an Irish-based player in European competition with his goal in the first leg in Madeira last week.

The former Bohemians star was stunned by the result Pat Fenlon's side succumbed to in Wales.

"It wasn't a result I was expecting, especially from the reports I'd heard from the first leg when Bohs were unlucky not to win by more than 1-0," said Crowe.

"The surprise is when you consider that Bohs beat Rhyl 9-3 two years ago. Everybody knew TNS would be a step up, but it shows that in European football you can't take anything for granted."

While acknowledging that Maritimo remain favourites to progress to the next round, Crowe insists FAI Ford Cup holders Sporting will go into their second-round clash full of belief.

"I feel we've got a great chance," said Crowe. "We will have to pass the ball better, but we kept a clean sheet until the 77th minute over there before we conceded three late goals. It's not a game we need to be chasing goals in. There are 90 minutes to play, so we can be patient."

Fingal must plan without Colin Hawkins (broken ribs) but Shaun Maher returns, while Gary O'Neill (groin) is unlikely to make a comeback.

Maritimo have their own injury concerns with doubts over striker Djalma and goalkeeper Pecanha, who each started the first leg.

Irish Independent

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