Martin O'Neill gets behind Dundalk for their Champions League bid

"Dundalk have already given the SSE Airtricity League an enormous boost"

Martin O'Neill, Roy Keane

Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has pledged his support for Dundalk as the Irish champions prepare for a pivotal Champions League tie.

The Louth club face Poland's Legia Warsaw in the playoff round with victory over two legs leading to Dundalk becoming the first Irish side to reach the prestigious and lucrative Champions League group stages.

O'Neill was present when Dundalk knocked out BATE Borisov in the preceding round and as they prepare for their first leg against Legia at the  Aviva Stadium on Wednesday, O'Neill reiterated his praise and wish to see them go further.

"When the final whistle blew in Tallaght less than a fortnight ago it signalled the start of glorious celebration. Dundalk had defied great odds to knock out BATE Borisov, serial qualifiers for the UEFA Champions League Group Stages. And in so doing, they played magnificently, scoring three brilliant goals to complete an unforgettable evening," he said.

"It was an absolute privilege to witness such a performance. Everything needed to go through was on show - desire, passion, drive, great passages of play, and patience. All of these qualities will again be needed against Legia Warsaw.

"But Stephen Kenny has instilled a very strong self belief in the team, clearly evident in the trophies won in recent seasons. From a distance it seems they possess outstanding characters in the squad, a great team spirit and a strong mentality.

"Dundalk have already given the SSE Airtricity League an enormous boost. Qualification for the Group Stage of the Champions League would be absolutely incredible. The atmosphere in Tallaght was electric and the supporters played a very important part that evening. I'm sure the same will apply at the Aviva Stadium.

"Final hurdles, by nature, are difficult to overcome, but if the performance in Tallaght is any type of barometer, they will still be there fighting at the end. I wish Stephen, his team and his club, the best of luck."