Doolin: we’re under no illusions

FIRST the good news: Drogheda United did themselves and the eircom League proud with a battling performance in their 1-2 defeat by Dynamo Kiev at Dalymount Park on Tuesday night.

Now the bad news: next week they must travel to the Ukraine and hope to do at least as well against a powerful Kiev side on their own patch.

“Look, we’re under no illusions,” says Drogs boss Paul Doolin. “Apart from anything else, Dynamo are at home and you’ve got 32 degree temperatures as well so that doesn’t help, but we have to go and play and we look forward to it and we’ll see what happens.”

The action at Dalymount Park underlined why a Drogheda victory in Kiev would be one of the greatest European giant-killing acts of all time, yet Doolin can at least take heart from the fact that though his side were often outplayed on Tuesday they were never outclassed.

“First and foremost Kiev showed that they’re a very good side,” he says. “I have to say they certainly moved the ball well, but what I would also say about my own team is that I thought they were magnificent, particularly in the second half. I think when it got back to 1-1 we were very strong at that time. Probably the disappointing thing is that the goals should have been avoided.”

At the same time, Doolin admits that Jamie Ewings – deputising for the injured Dan Connor in goal — was by far the busier of the two keepers on the night.

“Yeah, there’s no doubt that he made some good saves,” says Doolin. “And I think at times we had a bit of luck too, but when you’re chasing the game you’re always susceptible to being open. But, again, I thought it was a great game of football. Anyone that came was certainly served a great game and that’s what you want.”

In terms of the bigger picture, Doolin suggests that League of Ireland football still has a long way to go before it can realistically contemplate breaking into the group stage of the Champions’ League.

“You saw players out there (at Dalymount) that have been bought for €6 million quid,” he points out. “The most that an eircom League club is spending a year, in total, is €3m, compared to €6m on one player for Kiev. So it’s very difficult to break into that Champions League, there’s no doubt about it, and that’s why I feel as a league we’re still in our infancy in full-time football. Maybe the next group, in another 10 years, possibly they may come close.”

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