Rovers and Pat’s set for tough European openers

By Hayden Moore

Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic will soon embark on their European adventures having, today, learned of their opening UEFA Europa League opposition.

Both Stephen Bradley and Harry Kenny’s sides will be up against Scandinavian opposition on July 11 for the first qualifying round, facing SK Brann and IFK Norrköping respectively.

Pats and Rovers Europe collage 180619 1

Captains Ian Bermingham and Ronan Finn will lead their respective St Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers sides into Europa League action next month.

A week later, Rovers will welcome their Norwegian opponents to Tallaght while Pat’s will entertain the midtable Swedish side at Richmond Park in Inchicore.

St Pat’s squeezed into the competition on a mere technicality after the last season’s fourth place side Waterford were denied a license to compete in Europe – with Kenny’s side getting the final spot instead.

Their opposition, IFK Norrköping, are likely to be tough for Kenny’s side to break down given that they finished up just two points off top spot in the Allsvenskan last season while, in contrast, Pat’s finished 37 points off the summit in the Premier Division.

The Swedes currently sit seventh in their table and are former opponents of Shamrock Rovers, albeit in a friendly.

Bradley’s side will make the trip to Norway for their encounter with SK Brann, a side that finished up third in the Eliteserien in 2018 and just a point adrift of Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Molde FK.

Meanwhile, Tallaght man Vinny Perth will see his Dundalk side take on Latvian Higher League Champions Riga FC on July 9 in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.

They will host in Oriel Park in the opening round before travelling to Latvia for the second leg a week later with Knocklyon’s Brian Gartland and Dane Massey and Clondalkin native Chris Shields all expected to feature.

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