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Shels face Maltese trip - 21 June 2002


Shelbourne will face Maltese Champions, Hibernians, in the first preliminary round of the Champions League. Meanwhile, in the UEFA Cup, Shamrock Rovers will face Djurgårdens of Sweden while Dundalk face Croatians NK Varteks.



Shelbourne will have the advantage of playing the second leg at Tolka Park when they are sure to have a big crowd and Pat Fenlon has announced he is pleased with the draw. "We're pleased enough with it," he said. "With the UEFA coefficients being the way they are, it looks like Hibernians are the strongest side that we could have been drawn against, but we will be prepared for the match."



The Shels player-manager also feels that the switch to summer soccer in Ireland may have an immediate benefit for the club since the Maltese League does not start until September. "We'll hopefully have an advantage that has normally worked against us in the past," Fenlon said. "We'll be going into the game with a number of competitive games behind us and maybe they won't be so hopefully that works to our advantage."



The boss also admitted that the possibility of facing Boavista, a side who progressed to the last 16 of the Champions League last season ahead of clubs as strong as Dynamo Kiev and Borussia Dortmund, was very appealing though. "Of course it's a huge incentive for the lads, but I think that the real issue for us is that we want to progress into the next stage of the Champions League. A lot of the players here have done it before and we want to do it again," he said.



The first leg is on July 17 with the second leg taking place two weeks later in Tolka Park.



Shamrock Rovers manager Liam Buckley believes that the Hoops will face a difficult match against Swedish side Djurgårdens – the first leg of which is in Sweden. "It's a strong league and has come on in leaps and bounds in the last 20 years," he said.



"I know of Djurgårdens, but at the moment I know very little about them but we will have our work done before the match comes around."



Djurgårdens earned their UEFA Cup spot for finishing second in the Swedish League that finished last season. Their new season has already started and their form has been patchy in the opening weeks with two defeats in their first seven matches.



However, despite the Swedes being match fit, the new Hoops boss believes that the switch to summer soccer will help the eircom League clubs. The first leg of the UEFA Cup will not take place until August 15, five weeks after the eircom League season starts. "It will certainly help us," he said. "By the time the game comes around, we will be very well prepared and organized as opposed to previous seasons when maybe that wasn't the case."



Dundalk face possibly the toughest tie of the three Irish clubs when they travel to Croatia to face NK Varteks. The Croats knocked Aston Villa out of last season's UEFA Cup and finished fourth in the Croatian League last season.



Dundalk manager Martin Murray admitted that it wasn't the draw he wanted. "I said all along I wanted Aberdeen because it was have been easy for the club to travel. But it could have been worse that Croatia, we could have got a team in Georgia and that would have been very difficult from the travel point for view."



Turning to football matters, Murray said he expects Varteks to be a very difficult side to play. "All sides from Croatia and the former Yugoslavia are good. They knocked out Aston Villa last year so that shows just how good they are if they have the same players again this time. We'll find out about them before we play them, but I expect they will be the type of side which likes to keep the ball and make us work."


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My beloved Shelbourne will have a nice 1st game to play, Hibernians will be really hard. Almost Real Madrid hard! ;) Mark my words lad's... Shelbourne Rovers will win the Champions League...!!!
 

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Ha ha ha well maybe if they take away 15 points from every other team ;) Just joshing best of luck to all the Eire sides.
 

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Hey! :devil: If Pat's wanna cheat then that's their choice! :tongue:
Yeah, I hope every team goes well. It will be really good for Irish football if they go far enough into their respective competitions... Good Luck to em' all! :)
 
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