Stephen Kenny: Dundalk won’t suffer ‘inferiority complex’
Brian Gartland in line to return for Champions League qualifier against Legia Warsaw
Brian Gartland is in line to play for Dundalk in their Champions League qualifier first leg against Legia Warsaw at the Aviva stadium on Wednesday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Brian Gartland is in contention to return for Dundalk against Legia Warsaw in Wednesday night’s Champions League qualifier first leg but midfielders Ronan Finn and Pat McEleney both face late fitness tests on the groin strains that sidelined them for the game in Bray last week.
Stephen Kenny’s squad trained at the stadium on Tuesday afternoon with the manager making final preparation for what will be the most lucrative game in the club’s history. If Dundalk can beat the Polish title holders over two legs they will be guaranteed a place in the Champions League group stages and around €15 million in revenue.
Defeat would be accompanied by the consolation prize of Europa League group stage football and around €6 million in prize money and other income.
Kenny is under no illusions about the scale of it all for a club that on the brink of financial collapse a few short seasons ago but, he insists, the money is not uppermost in his mind.
“We want to transform the landscape of football in Ireland by getting a result that will give confidence to every player who is playing here,” he said. “Legia won 5-0 the last time they played (two years ago against St Patrick’s Athletic) and it wasn’t too dissimilar in Scotland (in the next round).
“They didn’t go through to the group stages but that was to do with the suspended player they played in the Celtic game; so there’s no doubt that they have quality but we’ve shown that we have quality too.
“We don’t suffer from an inferiority complex ourselves and will be trying to focus on our own strengths and winning the game. We’ve been champions of Ireland for the last two seasons and double winners last year, and we should remember that.”
Dundalk’s skipper, Stephen O’Donnell, echoed the manager’s words, insisting that while Legia represent another tough challenge for the team, there is enough experience in the side to overcome it. “All the players who will be involved tomorrow have been involved in big nights before,” he said. “We’ve acquitted ourselves well in front of big crowds before – against Hajduk Split and BATE – and we won’t look to change anything going into this game.”
Around 26,000 tickets have been sold for the game with additional sections of the ground having been opened up and the club is hoping for a crowd in excess of 30,000 on the night.