Dundalk have landed in Estonia ahead of their Europa League Second Qualifying Round tie against Levadia Tallinn and held their press conference at the Kadrioru Stadium in Tallinn on Wednesday evening. The Lilywhites are riding the crest of a wave currently as they have won the last ten league games in a row, opening up a four point lead over Cork City. The Leesiders suffered a narrow home leg Champions League defeat at the hands of Dundalk’s 2016 conquerors Legia Warsaw on Tuesday night so the spotlight falls on Derry City (v Dinamo Minsk) Shamrock Rovers (v AIK) or Dundalk to raise Irish spirits in European competition this week.
Having lost narrowly to Hadjuk Split the last time Dundalk featured at this stage of the competition in 2014- Patrick Hoban scoring in the game, his last European game for the club. Incidentally, two players who sat on the Croatian bench in their World Cup Semi Final were on the bench in the Stadion Poljud for their 2-1 defeat- reserve keeper Lovre Kalinic and Fillip Bradaric.
Speaking to the assembled media, including extratime.ie, Kenny confirmed that Brian Gartland would captain the side tonight while there are injury doubts over both Dean Jarvis and Michael Duffy. Regarding the opposition, Kenny spoke of how the home side had undergone significant changes in recent times, “they’ve a new coach, new players and they’re a very good team, a very attacking team with four forwards. It’s set up for a very interesting game overall.”
“They’ve got an individual style, they’ve got two very attacking wingers who are aggressive and two centre forwards. Debelko has been getting the goals obviously since he came in. They’re a very well drilled, structured team and we have to earn the right to get a victory,” spoke the Lilywhites boss. “We never take for granted what any team will do and we’ll have to see on the night. We’ve a very tough game, we’ve a battle to win and there’s a real determination to do that.”
Also in attendance was Dane Massey, whose opposite number- Levadia Tallinn captain Dmitri Kruglov- has over a hundred caps for Estonia but the former Bray full back was pragmatic about facing such an experienced competitor, “To get a hundred caps. It’s an amazing achievement, it’s a great feat in itself. In terms of experience I think he’s a good bit ahead of me at that level. It’s eleven v eleven on the day and experience aside it’s who wants it more.”
It promises to be a fascinating encounter where it is expected that a large number of Dundalk fans will be in attendance and possibly outnumber the home support which has been low in number on recent occasions. Kick off this afternoon is 5pm Irish time (7pm here) and Live Updates can be found at the link below: