File photo of Conor Levingston. Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
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'We are young and fearless' - Bohs head to Luxembourg for their next step in Europe

Conor Levingston speaks ahead of his side’s Europa Conference tie with Dudelange.

BOHEMIANS TAKE THEIR next step in Europe tomorrow night, as they face Dudelange of Luxembourg in the first leg of the second qualifying round of the new, third-tier Europa Conference League. 

Not that Bohs midfielder Conor Levingston is expecting it to be as easy as 1-2-3. 

“It will be a step up in opposition, Stjarnan were a tough test in their own way, they play a different style of football to what we are used to playing against. It was tough to break them down, they sat in. Dudelange are going to play a bit more and will be a step up in opposition, it’s a challenge for us as a team to meet it head on.” 

Stjarnan were the Icelandic opponents easily beaten 3-0 at the Aviva Stadium in the first qualifying round, and should Bohs progress through this round, their prize is a tie against Greek giants PAOK. 

But if 2021 has taught the Irish football fan anything, it’s that Luxembourg opposition should not be taken lightly.

Dudelange finished runners-up in the national league last season, but qualified for the Europa League group stages for two seasons on the trot between 2018 and 2020. Their stand-out results include a 0-0 draw with Real Betis and a pair of games with AC Milan: one was lost narrowly 1-0, the other was a heavier 5-2 defeat that obscures the fact the Luxembourg side led at one stage of the second half. 

Dudelange have iffy memories of Ireland at least: they were knocked out at the first phase of the Europa League by UCD in 2015.

Bohs travel to Luxembourg for tomorrow’s first leg, with the return game again fixed for the Aviva Stadium on Thursday week.

“We have to go out and be positive, we are a process-driven team, we go after performance as opposed to results”, says Levingston. “If we get a good performance we’ll more than likely get a good result, if we go out there and think positively. Hopefully we can implement our game on them and come away with a positive result to bring back home.” 

As per, the Bohs side that will take to the field in Luxembourg will have youth on its side: 18-year-old Dawson Devoy will likely be involved, as will 20-year-old Ross Tierney. That may prove to be an advantage, says Levingston. 

“I think we have a good self-belief within the group without being arrogant. There is never a chance of us being arrogant, because we like to pride ourselves on being a hard-working team. I think it will be an advantage for us, we are young and fearless.

“I think most of us have played at this level now, going through a round, playing last year, we have underage internationals in the group, we’ve lads who have gone away with the senior international team. I definitely think youth is on our side and hopefully that proves to be a positive come Thursday.”

And beyond this Thursday, another opportunity to play at the Aviva awaits Levingston and his team-mates. 

“I don’t know if it’s an advantage but everyone is always looking forward to playing in Europe, and it’s a nice occasion to play in front of so many fans again. It’s a massive help, the fans were brilliant last week. You had the hair standing up on the back of your neck walking out, it’s good to have that back. In that way it’s a positive: a good pitch and good environment to play in. It suits them as much as it suits us.” 

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