Tallaght awaits for Dundalk as Europa pursuit continues

Vinny Perth’s side hoping to take a lead to Tallinn; Bohs travel to Luxembourg

Vinny Perth and Dundalk meet Estonian opposition in Tallaght on Thursday night. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Vinny Perth and Dundalk meet Estonian opposition in Tallaght on Thursday night. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Europa Conference League - second round qualifiers, first leg

Dundalk v FCI Levadia Tallinn (Estonia) -Tallaght stadium, 8pm

Dundalk, and all that conflict around their American owners trying to run before they could walk, are hoping to bring 1,000 fans to Tallaght and not, as they initially aspired towards, a famous night up Lansdowne Road.

That far reaching aspiration by the Hulsizer family, to make the Aviva stadium the club’s home patch for 10 matches every season, did not go to plan in 2020. Nor did the €20 million-plus offer to buy the FAI and IRFU out of running the Dublin 4 venue.

Instead, Dundalk’s US owners must sit and simmer at the sight of Bohemians negotiating a second game in the national arena with an increased capacity of 8,000.

At least their manager Vinny Perth has no plans to depart the scene mid-season. Perth confirmed this week that he will not be taking up the role of Northern Ireland Under-21 manager, nor any other position until November 30th, when he hopes to sign a new contract.

“There is no way between now and the end of the season, bar Jose Mourinho offering me his assistant manager’s job or whatever, am I going anywhere!” joked Perth.

Tallaght nights over Roma will have to suffice.

“What we’ve done in the last four weeks is we’ve steadied the ship,” added Perth of Dundalk’s steady upturn in results. “We haven’t turned it around or miraculously become this great team or club again.”

A miracle would be the Louth side reaching the Europa League proper. That requires progress past the Estonian league leaders, a side they overcame under Stephen Kenny in 2018, before a mission impossible against Dutch side Vitesse.

One step at a time, but Perth and the owners should expect to bring a decent lead to Tallinn next week.

F91 Dudelange (Luxembourg) v Bohemians - Stade Jos Nosbaum, 5.30pm

The problem with accelerating the career of teenager Dawson Devoy, following a famous European victory, is what comes next. Knowing this Luxembourg outfit have already set a higher standard to Bohemians, having qualified for the Europea League in 2018 and 2019, Devoy will have been signalled out for close attention on Thursday night.

And every other night for as long as he continues to dominate proceedings like he did throughout last week’s 3-0 win over Stjarnan at a raucous Aviva Stadium.

It will be fascinating to see how Keith Long sets up Devoy and his usually attack minded front four of Ross Tierney, Ali Coote, Liam Burt and target man Georgie Kelly.

The temptation must exist to adopt a cautious approach that ensures the increased capacity of 8,000 have a second leg to get excited about in seven days time.

“There is room for growth within the group which is a massive positive,” Bohs midfielder Conor Levingston assured the media this week. “We have a good self-belief within the group without being arrogant. There is never a chance of us being arrogant, because we like to pride ourselves on being a hard-working team.”

Levingston tells no words of a lie but those words will be put to a stern test on the northern French border.

Greek club POAK awaits the winner in the third qualifying round.

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