Saturday 18 November 2017

"I remember thinking 'oh my god, this is not fun for anybody'" - Damian Lynch recaps Bohs 2003 thrashing by Rosenborg

Roar Strand jubilating after scoring 3-0 for Rosenborg in a Champions League qualifying match against Bohemians, Ireland, in Trondheim, Central Norway August 6th. 2003. AFP PHOTO SCANPIX KALLESTAD, GORM/AFP/Getty Images.
Roar Strand jubilating after scoring 3-0 for Rosenborg in a Champions League qualifying match against Bohemians, Ireland, in Trondheim, Central Norway August 6th. 2003. AFP PHOTO SCANPIX KALLESTAD, GORM/AFP/Getty Images.

Conor Neville

Rosenborg, Dundalk's opponents in the opening round of the Champions League, used to be cited as an inspiration to League of Ireland clubs.

Here was a club from a minor league who were mixing it up with the giants, living it up in the Champions League group stages, and looking absolutely at home there too.

They never performed like some joke outfit who prompted everyone else to wonder how the hell they got there.

In 2003, the Norwegian club did battle with a Bohemians side managed by Stephen Kenny and gave the League of Ireland outfit a painful lesson in their European standing.

It was a bleaker era for League of Ireland clubs in Europe, a time before Dundalk qualified for the Europe League and before Shelbourne took it to Split.

Back in the 1990's, for instance, only once did an Irish club win a European Cup tie, namely Cork City, who beat Welsh champions Cwmbran Town on away goals back in August 1993.

By 2003, things had improved, but not by enough. Bohemians, LOI champions in 2002-03 (Kenny's only League title before Dundalk) were hopelessly ill-equipped for the challenge of Rosenborg.

Regular LOI Weekly contributor Damian Lynch was playing full-back for Bohemians that night and recalls it as his 'longest night in football'.

"They were phenomenal," Lynch told LOI Weekly.

"That was my first European campaign. We beat BATE Borisov in the first round. We ended up playing Rosenborg.

"They beat us 1-0 at home and then when we got over there, the stadium was great, everything was brilliant, there was a real sense that it was proper European football.

"The first-half, we kept it tight for about 25 minutes and then they scored. I actually remember Shay Kelly was our best player on the night. They could have beaten us 6-0 or 7-0. They were absolutely brilliant that night.

"I remember stepping off the pitch and Paul Keegan, the centre forward at the time, turned around to me and said "well, I'm never going to get to that standard."

"That was my first year in Europe and I remember thinking 'oh my god, this is not fun for anybody.'"

The Bohemians players self-esteem wasn't helped when in the aftermath of the match they had asked a UEFA delegate to translate the Norwegian press' coverage of the game.

Rosenborg captain Erik Hoftun gave a brutally dismissive, but also brutally honest assessment of Roseborg's approach.

"He said 'yeah we said we'd let them run around for the first 20 minutes and tire themselves out and then we'd have a go at them.' And that's exactly what they did. We ran around like headless chickens for 20 minutes and they flicked the switch."

How different the reaction is now. In 2017, the Rosenborg players and staff didn't want Dundalk.

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