IT'S been a case of mixed fortunes for Irish clubs in Europe this week as Shamrock Rovers, UCD, St Patrick’s Athletic and Cork City were all in Europa League action.
League of Ireland First Division side UCD pulled off a remarkable result on Thursday as they beat Luxembourg outfit F91 Dudelange 1-0 in the opening leg of their Qualifying First Round at the UCD Bowl.
Ryan Swan was the goal hero as the 19-year-old latched onto a through ball and steered it underneath experienced goalkeeper Jonathan Joubert, who captains the Luxembourg national team.
Collie O’Neill’s side will travel to Dudelange for the return leg on July 9 as they look to defend their slender but creditable lead.
Elsewhere, it wasn’t such a good night for Cork City as they were held 1-1 at home to KR Reykjavik of Iceland in what was the Leesiders’ first game in Europe since 2008.
Despite taking the lead in front of a buoyant crowd of over 4,500 at Turner’s Cross, Cork were unable to build on the momentum that came with Alan Bennett’s 19th-minute opener.
KR took just 10 minutes to pull level, with Oskar Hauksson heading in the equaliser. Despite late claims for a penalty, City were unable to re-take the lead and now face a difficult task in Reykjavik next week.
Meanwhile, St Pat’s may have been the only League of Ireland side to have suffered defeat in the mid-week Europa League fixtures, but they’re not without hope after claiming an away goal in Latvia.
Skonto Riga will take a 2-1 lead to Inchicore next week, but Aaron Greene’s strike – which opened the scoring – gives Liam Buckley’s side a lifeline heading into their home leg.
On Tuesday, Shamrock Rovers showed enough quality to suggest they can advance to the second phase of qualifying rounds as they earned a 0-0 draw with FC Progrès Niederkorn in Luxembourg.
With the tie finely poised, Rovers will have home advantage for the return leg, which takes place at Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday, July 7.