He speaks to Off The Ball about an outstanding achievement
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny believes his side should be confident of taking on any side and underlines that the win over BATE Borisov is not a one-off.
His side defeated the Belarusian side, who have been Champions League regulars, 3-1 on aggregate and are now one step away from the group stages with the playoff round to negotiate.
A huge financial boost is winging its way towards the club and win or lose in the playoff round, they are guaranteed eight more European matches before Christmas with all the extra revenue that entails.
It provides an opportunity to pour that money into Dundalk's own facilities.
"Our facilites are among the most basic in the country, I think, and that doesn't inspire us. That hinders us somewhat I feel. But these are things that you have to contend with and we have the culture really from the players of not complaining. We make the best of everything we have," Kenny told Off The Ball.
As for the BATE result, Kenny believes their performances in Europe in recent seasons have built that foundation.
"I think consistently we've shown character and composure under pressure. This is not a one-off result. Two years ago [in the 2014-15 Europa League qualifiers], after beating Jeunesse Esch home and away, we had to beat Hajduk Split away and that was a shock to them at that time. Alright, we went out over the two legs narrowly but the fact that we won out there away it was somewhat of a statement and I felt last season our performance in the Borisov Arena was probably, at that stage, our best ever one. We lost 2-1 and we should never have lost 2-1 out there last year."
Kenny felt BATE "outplayed" his side in the first leg in Belarus last week but they had been confident of improving massively in the second leg, as they did.
"The players must realise that BATE Borisov have been in the group stages five times, they've had consistently good results and we've played them over four games and our aggregate score is greater over two seasons. We matched them and we were much the better team last night, so I feel that they can take confidence from that and whoever we play we have a chance."
He explained that they had to be compact early on to avoid conceding a tie-ending goal before opening up as the game went on and sealing the win.
"Anyone who was at the game or witnessed it last night, the joy in the ground when that third goal went in was just really special," he said, adding that "it was a lifetime ambition" to qualify for the group of stages of a European competition - guaranteed already in the Europa League if the Champions League playoff route isn't successful, although he wants that "fall-back option" to be ignored in order to be able to focus fully on the main goal of Champions League group stage progression.
And he emphasised that he has no interest in a "glamour tie" in the playoff round and would like a tie that gives Dundalk the best chance of reaching the group stages for the first time.