"We never doubted that we could get an equaliser" - Stephen Kenny reacts to a historic night for Dundalk

The Premier Division champions drew 1-1 with Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in their opening group stage match

BY Cian Roche 08:00 Friday 16 September 2016, 8:00 16 Sep 2016

Image: ©INPHO/Karel Delvoije

Dundalk continued to make Irish football history last night as their late goal made them the first Irish team to get a point in the group stages of the Europa League.

Ciaran Kilduff's 89th minute header earned them a 1-1 draw against AZ Alkmaar, even after they were reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of skipper, Stephen O'Donnell.

Speaking after the game, manager Stephen Kenny praised his side's courage and explained that they understood the gravity of the result.

"We didn't win the game, I think that's the first thing I said that we haven't won it," Kenny told eir Sport. 

"But it feels like a win. To be one down and down to ten, your captain gets sent off against an exceptional team in AZ Alkmaar.

"To rally back and defend the way we did and to have the belief to go and get the equaliser... We never doubted that we could get an equaliser. We always believe we can.

"Ciaran Kilduff showed what he does best; he's a goalscorer. We missed him in Poland having that option - he was injured obviously - but you've seen his value tonight."

Dundalk, who's sparkling run in the qualifying campaign even saw them overcome Champions League regulars BATE Borisov, did not look out of their depth on the European stage.  

"It feels like a win for us," said defender Brian Gartland. "It's a big occasion for Irish football and as you say, down to 10 men, backs against the wall. They had a few chances then and we got tired.

"When the 10 minutes went up, legs just started to go up but we kept a good shape and [Kilduff] popped up with the goal."

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