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Towell: Champions League upset would make people stand up and take notice

The midfielder is looking forward to testing himself when Dundalk play in Europe’s premier club competition for the first time since 1991.

Towell at the launch of Adidas' new ACE and X boots in Dublin yesterday.
Towell at the launch of Adidas' new ACE and X boots in Dublin yesterday.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

DUNDALK MIDFIELDER RICHIE Towell is eager to learn from last season’s mistakes when they begin their European campaign next month.

The SSE Airtricity League Premier Division club have been handed a difficult draw against Belarusian champions BATE Borisov in the Champions League second qualifying round.

A year ago, the Lilywhites suffered a 2-0 loss to Hajduk Split in the Europa League before going out on aggregate after a superb 2-1 win in Croatia. Towell, who played in both games, believes Stephen Kenny’s men could have played it smarter in the first leg.

“Yeah we were probably a bit naive when we played Hajduk at home,” Towell said. “We knew it would be tougher away from home and when we went 1-0 down we really went for it. Hindsight is a great thing, if we hadn’t done that we would have gone through. We just have to stay in the tie and bring it back to Oriel Park where we’d have a great chance.

BATE, who won a ninth consecutive domestic title back in November, have qualified for the group stages of Europe’s elite club competition three of the last five years and Towell accepts they will be favourites to progress.

“It’s a tough draw, but I don’t think we were expecting an easy one,” he said. “We knew we’d get a seeded team and out of them it’s probably one of the most difficult but we’re ready for the challenge. We know we have a good side full of good players and we’re just excited for the next few weeks.

“Maybe we would have preferred a lesser team but I don’t think there was going to be an easy tie in the Champions League. We’re well aware of that.

As a footballer you want to test yourself against the best players and BATE have been in the group stages the last three years in a row so we know they’ll be top players and we’re excited to test ourselves against them.

“Stephen (Kenny) was saying the other day that they’re a real success story as they were a small club from a small town. What they have done is remarkable and it’s something we can aspire to if we keep going the way we are.”

Mislav Andjelkovic and Richie Towell 24/7/2014 Towell up against Hadjuk Split's Mislav Andjelkovic in last season's Champions League qualifier. Source: Marijo Basic/CROPIX

As a child, Towell was brought to Lansdowne Road in 2004 as Shelbourne held Deportivo La Coruna to a 0-0 draw. If Dundalk could spring a surprise and eliminate BATE, he thinks it would force more football fans to take notice of the League of Ireland.

“When Shamrock Rovers did it they got a lot of recognition,” he added. “I wasn’t a Shelbourne fan but when they played Deportivo in 2005 I went to watch that as a little boy with my dad. I’m sure if we did get a result that a lot more people might support an Irish team such as Dundalk. It could be a great thing if we did cause an upset.”

Richie Towell launched the new Adidas range of ACE and X football boots in Dublin yesterday. They will be available from Life Style Sports nationwide from 1 July and can be pre-ordered from www.lifestylesports.com

Originally published at 06.05

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Ben Blake

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