“We probably feared Hajduk Split a small bit (in the first leg), maybe gave them a bit too much respect,” he reflects, “whereas we went over there and beat them and had them on the ropes. If we’d got one more goal we would be through.”
While Horgan accepts that BATE Borisov are a step up again in quality, he insists that Dundalk should have no inferiority complex about taking on the Belarus side.
“We’ll definitely not be giving as much respect this time around,” he says. “If we go out there, play to our ability, play our normal game, maybe alter it slightly for the opposition, but play like we can, there’s nothing stopping us really bar ourselves.”
Horgan, yesterday named the SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers Association of Ireland Player Of The Month for May, has good reason to feel confident, given that Dundalk are once again the team to beat in Ireland as they seek to defend the title they won so impressively last season.
“We’re even hungrier this year to retain it,” says the winger. “The manager also brought in very good players. It might be a slightly smaller squad but maybe there is that extra bit off the bench that we can have. I’ve never been involved in a team like it, with the work the lads put in on and off the pitch.
“It’s shown so far this year and it’s paid dividends. We’ve had a good start but that’s all it is, a start. There’s still another half a season to go, and with Europe and all the cup competitions kicking in, we now have to see the benefit of the squad we have.”
Horgan’s goals and eye-catching displays have attracted the attention of Championship clubs — Bolton Wanderers among them — but the 22-year-old is not about to be distracted by media speculation.
“No, unless there is something actually done about it, it’s nothing to me,” he says. “It’s very easy to talk. It’s a different story when there is money on the table.”
Which is not to say he doesn’t have real ambitions to play across the Irish Sea, not least because he sees that such a move seems to be regarded as a necessary stepping stone to senior international honours.
“It’s just a pity when you’re in Ireland, you never play international football,” he says. “There’s been a few cases where lads have gone over (to England) and they’re straight in, which is a bit disappointing to see.
“It’s great for them and I wouldn’t take it away from them in any way shape or form but it’s just disappointing for lads who have been playing in the league for years that they aren’t recognised as professional footballers, even though a lot of them would be. It’s looked down on a small bit. It just seems to be the case that if you do go to England, you have a far better chance of getting in.”
A case in point is his former Cork City colleague Brian Lenihan who got a call-up to Martin O’Neill’s squad after his move to Hull, even though he hadn’t make a first-team appearance for the club.
“Lenny is a very good player,” says Horgan. “He was brilliant for Cork last year and he well deserved his move away and I wouldn’t take away from him being called into the squad.
“It was just maybe to see what he was like, which is fair enough. But if you’re going to take a lad who’s gone over and played with the reserves in Hull, why not take in a lad who’s playing first team football constantly here?”