Dundalk drawn to face Nicklas Bendtner’s Rosenborg
Derry play Midtjylland, who beat Manchester United last season
Nicklas Bendtner in action for Rosenborg in the Norwegian Cup last month. Photograph: Getty Images
League of Ireland champions Dundalk have been handed a tough Champions League draw with Stephen Kenny’s side set to face Rosenborg over the coming weeks.
The Irish side avoided the higher ranked Celtic after being grouped with the Scots for the draw which took place on Monday morning in Nyon.
However, the Norwegian champions represent a formidable challenge for the Oriel Park outfit who were drawn to play at home first, although this is subject to confirmation.
Dundalk, who reached the group stages of the Europa League last season, have never played Rosenborg in European competition before but Kenny was the manager of Bohemians when the Dubliners were beaten by them in 2003.
On that occasion Bohemians lost the first leg 1-0 at home before being beaten 4-0 in the return leg. Rosenborg, who had been completely dominant domestically at the time, subsequently endured some difficult seasons in the years that followed - winning just three of the next nine league titles, a major disappointment by their standards.
More recently, however, they have reasserted themselves, winning the title in each of the last two seasons and currently sitting at the top of the table.
Former Norwegian international Kare Ingberigsten, who has a long association with the club having both played and coached there on a number of occasions, is the current manager while the best known player in what is a predominantly Norwegian squad is former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner. He is currently the side’s top scorer for this season with four goals from 12 games.
Last season they were put out of the Champions League at the third qualifying round stage by APOEL of Cyrpus before going out to Austria Vienna in the play-off round of the Europa League.
The first game between the two clubs will take place on either July 11th or 12th.
Meanwhile Derry City have been handed comfortably the toughest draw of the Airtricity League’s three clubs in the Europa League; with Kenny Shiels’ side facing a two legged first round tie against FC Midtjylland.
The Danish outfit came through the competition’s group stages two seasons ago, before losing to Manchester United in the round of 32.
The Danes, who have the same owners as English Championship side Brentford, won the Danish title a couple of seasons ago and finished third in the top flight in the years before and after that success.
They possess a strong squad with an emphasis on youth, although there are several established senior internationals or players with experience of playing at that level. Those include Jakob Poulsen, Alexander Sorloth and Markus Halsti; of Denmark, Norway and Finland respectively.
Their best known player at present, though, is the veteran Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, formerly of Real Madrid and Tottenham.
In last year’s Europa league they beat opposition from Lithuania, Liechtenstein and Hungary before losing to Osmanlispor of Turkey in the play-off round but the year before that they came through a group that included Napoli, Bruges and Legia Warsaw in second place, progressing to the knockout stages proper of the competition where they lost 6-3 to United despite beating the English side 2-1 at home.
Cork City and Shamrock Rovers both fared rather better in the draw for the first qualifying round, with the current league leaders paired with Levadia Tallinn of Estonia while Rovers will face Stjarnan of Iceland.
The latter have made only a handful of appearances in European competition and were well beaten by Celtic last time out, but in 2014/15 they embarked on a remarkable run, beating Bangor City (Wales), Motherwell (Scotland) and Lech Poznan (Poland) before eventually being trounced 9-0 on aggregate in the play-off round by Inter Milan.
All three sides were drawn to play away first although the order of the games has yet to be confirmed. The first legs are scheduled to take place on Thursday week (the 29th) with the return legs a week later.