Drawing opposition as formidable as Legia Warsaw was hardly the dream date Cork City had in mind in the Champions League but, while John Caulfield is not hiding from the difficulty of the challenge thrown up by yesterday’s First Round draw in Nyon – “probably got the toughest that was there” was his initial reaction yesterday – the City manager is still hoping that his side can subject the three-in-a-row Polish champions to something of a “nightmare” in the first leg at home.
There will be no marquee meeting with Celtic for Cork City in the first round of the Champions League but Ireland’s title-holders will still face tough opposition when the pairings are finalised at the draw in Switzerland this morning.
Stephen Kenny will be in Poland tomorrow to watch Legia Warsaw host Piast Gliwice as Dundalk accelerate preparations for their huge Champions League play-off games against the Polish champions at Aviva Stadium on August 17 and in Warsaw on August 23.
Friday night marked four years almost to the day since Ireland’s last adieu to their Dublin faithful ahead of a European Championship bid and there were moments aplenty to make you wonder at how much has changed in that snapshot of time.
Martin O’Neill says he is “delighted” that Ireland will have home advantage in the second leg of their Euros play-off against Bosnia-Herzegvina next month, but stresses his team will have to perform well away from home in the first leg if they are to hope to progress to the finals in France next year.