Stephen Kenny wants all of Dundalk’s European games in front of 30,000 fans

Dundalk officials will be hoping to draw big team like United or Inter in Europa League

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny  and player Andy Boyle. Photograph: Leszek Szymanski/EPA

Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny and player Andy Boyle. Photograph: Leszek Szymanski/EPA

 

With new signings to bed in and a league match to win, Stephen Kenny insisted that he had not paid much attention to who Dundalk might land in today’s Europa League draw and was pretty dismissive regarding the talk of Manchester United being the big prize on offer.

The club’s officials who have gone to Monaco might beg to differ.

Speaking as he travelled with his players on the first leg of their journey from Dundalk to Wexford for this evening’s Premier Division game, Kenny said: “I have to be honest, and you probably won’t believe me about this, but I haven’t even looked at who we might get. And if you’re asking me is it my dream to manage against Manchester United, then the answer is no.

“My mind has been on completing the new signings [Alan Keane and Dean Shiels] and trying to sort out Dean’s international clearance for the past day or so.

“I need to be focused on Friday’s game so I haven’t really been thinking about the draw but I never really look at the draws, to be honest. We’ll see who we get when it happens and worry about it after that.”

According to the rankings, Schalke 04 and Zenit are the top two draws but landing Manchester United would clearly create the greatest demand for tickets, with many Irish fans likely to cheer on the English team.

The club are set to play out of Tallaght but appear to be hoping to get permission to move at least one game if there is the potential to attract a large crowd.

Fresh from his side’s narrow elimination from the Champions League playoff round in front of 30,000 Poles on Tuesday night, Kenny would prefer to see his club thinking big and building on the players’ experience, with one eye on ensuring they are better able to face this sort of challenge the next time it comes around.

“If it was down to me, I’d go for the bigger stadium for all the games.

“The only way the players are going to improve is to get as much experience as possible of playing in those sorts of environments.

“I’d like us, as a club, to look at how we can get 30,000 in for all of the group games and, personally, I think the players are worth it; I think they should be playing on stages like that.

“I appreciate, though, that it might not be practical and that the club has to make the decisions that are best for it but that’s what I would like.”

He and the club officials will have a much better idea of what is feasible by lunchtime today, with the draw expected to start around noon Irish time.

They must envy Legia whose reward for going through on Tuesday was inclusion in a group that includes Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Sporting Lisbon but there are plenty of attractions in the Europa League too, with Ajax, Inter and Roma amongst the many quality sides involved.

Dundalk will also be weighing up what opponents might present the best hope of securing a positive result or two, though, in order to add to the €6 million or so that they have already guaranteed themselves in prize money.

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