Dundalk in dreamland after hitting €3m Europa League jackpot

Giovagnoli hopes for Mourinho clash as playoff victory puts Irish club into group stage

Dundalk players celebrate at the final whistle at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday night.  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Dundalk players celebrate at the final whistle at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday night. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

At a time when League of Ireland clubs, like so many around the globe, are fretting about their financial viability due to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, reigning champions Dundalk have no such worries after hitting the jackpot at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday night.

Their 3-1 win over Faroe Islands club KI Klaksvik earned them a place in the group stages of the Europa League, guaranteeing them a windfall of at least €2.92 million. And, for any victory they might pick up in that group, they’ll earn another €570,000, while each draw would yield them €190,000.

To put it in context, Dundalk received just over €100,000 for winning their league last season.

It is just the third time that an Irish club has reached the group stages of the competition, the second tier of European football after the Champions League, Shamrock Rovers achieving the feat in 2011, Dundalk, under current Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, doing it again in 2016.

Footballing royalty

The Louth club will, then, go into the hat for Friday’s draw along with a whole bunch of European footballing royalty, including AC Milan, Arsenal, Roma, Benfica, Spurs, PSV Eindhoven and loving Glasgow neighbours Celtic and Rangers.

Goals from Sean Murray, Daniel Cleary and Daniel Kelly secured the victory against a team aiming to become the first from the Faroe Islands to qualify for the latter stages of a European competition.

Italian Filippo Giovagnoli’s recent appointment as manager of Dundalk was largely greeted with responses along the lines of “what?!”, his CV less than lengthy, prompting him to note in advance of the game that he had “a few knives in my back”.

Come full-time, he was beaming. Knives withdrawn.

Who would he like Dundalk to be drawn against? Spurs, and their self-effacing gaffer.

“I would like to play against José Mourinho, for sure. He’s an icon of soccer, just to meet him would be amazing,” he said.

But for now, at least, Giovagno is the special one.

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