All you need to know about the Europa Conference League as three Irish clubs bid to make play-offs

Both Bohemians and Dundalk had to begin at the first round as Shamrock Rovers join the pair in round 3 of the potentially lucrative new competition 
All you need to know about the Europa Conference League as three Irish clubs bid to make play-offs

Dundalk players celebrate after the final whistle during the UEFA Europa Conference League second qualifying round second leg match against Ledavia in Estonia. Picture: Joosep Martinson/Sportsfile

What fixtures do Ireland’s representatives have in the third round first legs next week?

First up is Bohemians on Tuesday. They are back at the Aviva Stadium before another attendance of 8,000 to face Greek side PAOK (7.45pm).

Dundalk travel to the Netherlands to take on Vitesse at the GelreDome, Arnhem (6pm, Irish time).

Also on Thursday, Shamrock Rovers host Albanian outfit Teuta from Durrës at Tallaght Stadium (8pm).

How did the three Irish clubs get to this stage?

Both Bohemians and Dundalk had to begin at the first round.

Bohs came from behind to draw their first leg 1-1 against Stjarnan in before thumping the Icelanders 3-0 in the return leg. It was a similar pattern in the second round, only better on their travels.

Ross Tierney’s goal in Luxembourg gave the Gypsies a 1-0 first leg lead over Dudelange, an advantage they embraced on Thursday night by recording another 3-0 home victory at the national stadium.

Dundalk’s passage through the first round was secured after the first leg. They hammered Welsh side Newtown 4-0 at Oriel Park and underlined their supremacy with another 1-0 win away.

Levadia Tallinn, as expected, were much tougher opposition in the second round.

Vinny Perth’s side twice came behind at the temporary home of Tallaght to eke out a 2-2 draw before Thursday’s come-from-behind 2-1 win in Estonia.

Rovers’ involvement came via a completely different source.

Defeat to Slovan Bratislava in the Champions League left them with a consolation prize of entry into Uefa’s new third competition. They are on what Uefa term the Champions Path, a separate route to the Main Path which Bohs and Dundalk are in.

How much prize-money has each club earned so far?

Bohemians and Dundalk took their earnings to €850,000 by progressing on Thursday. Rovers are guaranteed a minimum of €1.1m from their summer sojourn but venturing into the group stage soars the riches to €2.5m.

What’s the next step?

The prize on offer for Ireland’s trio is a place in the play-off stages of the competition. That’s one step away from the lucrative group phase, a journey that will add six matches either side of Christmas.

Where are the big names?

Uefa were keen to add some glamour to a subsidiary competition that has been ridiculed since the concept was first broached.

Hence, Jose Mourinho’s Roma and his former club Tottenham Hotspur enter the fray at the play-off stage.

Also straight into that stage by virtue of the strength of their domestic leagues are French outfit Rennes and Union Berlin from the German Bundesliga.

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