Wednesday 18 September 2019

'We'll need to go up another level' - Dundalk looking to make Irish football history in Slovakia

Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Dundalk will have to battle with history if they are to come away from Bratislava with a result from their Europa League tie with Slovan, as an Irish side has never managed a win in Slovakia.

The Lilywhites face Slovakia champions Slovan Bratislava in the first leg of their Europa League tie on Wednesday night, both clubs into the Europa League after Champions League defeats, but Slovan know a bit about Irish opposition. They won 1-0 at home, and 5-3 on aggregate, against St Patrick's Athletic in the UEFA Cup in 1996, and three years ago they won at home and away against UCD in the Europa League.

Sligo Rovers also fell to a defeat on their visit to Slovakia, losing 3-1 away and 4-2 on aggregate to Spartak Trnava in 2012.

And the senior international team have also struggled on Slovakian soil, Steve Staunton's side held to a 2-2 draw in a Euro 2008 qualifier in Bratislava while in 2010, Zilina was the venue for a 1-1 draw between Slovakia and the Republic.

Dundalk boss Vinny Perth is aware of the pitfalls against Slovan but feels his side can deliver.

"They are a top side and we'll need to go up another level to compete, but it's a winnable tie," says Perth.

"Qarabag was a winnable tie as well, with 15 minutes to go we were only one goal away from being level with them. We'd like to think that all the ties at this level are winnable, we want to be in the playoff stages regularly so it's a challenge to get through but it's worked out well that we are away first against Slovan."

Dundalk train at the newly-built Tehelne Pole Stadium on Tuesday evening.

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