# Safe European Home
Irish sides in the driving seat for lucrative Europa League progression
There are very important games down for decision tonight in both Cork and Dublin.

CORK CITY AND St Patrick’s Athletic are both 90 minutes away from securing their places in the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

Having secured 1-1 draws away from home in last week’s first legs, they take on BK Hacken (Sweden) and Dinamo Minsk (Belarus) respectively on Irish soil this evening, with big attendances expected at Turner’s Cross and Richmond Park (both games kick off at 7.45pm).

For Cork City, progression is likely to result in a meeting with Genk in the next stage. The Belgian side lead Montenegro’s Budućnost Podgorica 2-0 at the midway point of their tie. Pat’s will face either Serbian outfit FK Vojvodina (who hold a 1-0 first-leg lead) or Connah’s Quay Nomads from Wales.

Rasmus Schuller with Steven Beattie Tommy Holl / INPHO BK Hacken's Rasmus Schuller tangling Cork City's Steven Beattie during their first leg in Gothenburg. Tommy Holl / INPHO / INPHO

Perhaps most importantly, however, are the financial implications of reaching the next round. Both SSE Airtricity Premier Division clubs have already earned €410,000 each from this Europa League campaign, but that figure will increase to €630,000 should they get the job done tonight.

By League of Ireland standards that’s certainly not to be sniffed at, considering City and Pat’s — based on their current positions in the table (second and sixth) — will earn a respective €55,000 and €19,500 each at the end of the current season.

Despite playing last week against Hacken, City — who eliminated Linfield in the previous round — will give a late fitness test to key midfielder Greg Bolger, who picked up an ankle injury in the first leg of their triumph over the Belfast club.

“We still have a problem with Greg,” said Cork City manager John Caulfield. “He’s a phenomenal player for us and the best midfielder in the league. Now that he’s captain, he has been bringing the team on and is showing massive leadership.

“He probably needs a three-week break but at the moment we can’t afford that. The only thing is that he’s a hard nut, a tough boy and, of course, he wants to play as well, which is important.”

Caulfield added: “It’s going to be a tight game. The crowd will need to be patient and get right behind the team from the start. [Hacken] are used to playing in big stadiums. If the passion that we know the crowd has is there right from the start of the match, it will be interesting to see how they react to that.”

Christy Fagan Vadim Zamirovski / INPHO St Patrick's Athletic's Christy Fagan under pressure in Minsk seven days ago. Vadim Zamirovski / INPHO / INPHO

Pat’s manager Liam Buckley has a full squad to choose from for the visit of Dinamo Minsk to Inchicore, with midfielder Jack Bayly and goalkeeper Conor O’Malley both in contention for places.

“Last week was a fantastic result and one we thoroughly merited,” Buckley said. “We restricted them to very few clear-cut chances and when a big chance came our way, Christy [Fagan] managed to put it away. However, we are all very much aware that the second leg will be a much more challenging game.

“Dinamo have to come here and score so they’ll be pushing on to us. The players know to expect a higher level of performance from them so we’re under no illusions that it will be a tough game. That said, though, we feel we can play better ourselves and if we can do that, hopefully we can create another one of those special nights in Inchicore.”

The42 is on Snapchat! Tap the button below on your phone to add!

‘You can be a young lad playing in Europe instead of sitting on a bench in England’

Your Voice
Readers Comments