Monday 18 February 2019

Here's why Dundalk won't be able to play their crunch Champions League qualifier in front of their home fans

Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Yesterday was a magic night for Irish football as league champions Dundalk secured a 2-2 away draw in Iceland against FH to progress to the third Champions League qualifying round.

BATE Borisov stand between Dundalk and a possible dream tie in the Champions League playoff round, after which lies the lucrative group stage.

Stephen Kenny's men have some previous history with their upcoming Belarus opponents, having been eliminated 2-1 on aggregate in the second round qualifying stage last year.

The back-to-back Airtricity League champions lost the away leg 2-1 before drawing 0-0 at Oriel Park.

Read more: David McMillan the hero as Dundalk net €1.2m windfall with famous result in Iceland

Any bad memories from last year's tie might be forgotten about due to a change of scenery for the home leg in two weeks time. UEFA category 3 stadiums are required to host third round qualifying games, and unfortunately for Dundalk, Oriel Park doesn't fulfill that requirement.

Therefore, a week after travelling to Belarus, Dundalk will be required to move their home fixture. Irish Independent journalist Dan McDonnell is reporting that Tallaght Stadium - the home of Shamrock Rovers - is the likely venue.

Interestingly, the RDS Arena - where Leinster play their rugby matches - has previously hosted a St Pat's Europa League qualifier as a Category 3 stadium.

Dundalk will be hoping that they can create a home away from home in Tallaght, as the stakes are high.

If Dundalk beat BATE over two legs, they will be guaranteed meaningful European football as the losers of the Champions League playoff round enter the Europa League group stage.

There is even a lifeline if they lose in the third round, as they would then enter the Europa League playoff round.

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