Europa League success or a three-in-a-row: Dundalk captain Stephen O'Donnell on the club's priority

They open their group stage campaign against AZ Alkmaar on Thursday

BY Raf Diallo 14:51 Thursday 15 September 2016, 14:51 15 Sep 2016

Dundalk's Stephen O'Donnell pictured at the launch of eir Sport's European Football coverage. eir Sport will broadcast all six of Dundalk's Europa League group games on a free to view basis ©INPHO/James Crombie

Dundalk captain Stephen O'Donnell believes the Irish champions can make an impact in their Europa League group if playing at their full potential.

Thursday night's match away to AZ Alkmaar kicks off their group stage campaign, before future challenges against Zenit St Petersbug and Maccabi Tel Aviv. 

Speaking to Newstalk at the launch of eir Sports' European football coverage, O'Donnell knows things are stacked against his side but is hopeful that optimal performances can see them pull off a shock or two...or three.

"Obviously you take every game on its merits and just game by game. First, starting off with Alkmaar away, we'll be looking to get something from there. But we're under no illusions. We're massive underdogs. When you compare the budgets of all four teams and compare what budget we have, we're nowhere near the other three teams. But we also know the flipside, if we do play to our potential, we'll give anyone a right good game. So that's what we're looking at," he said.  

Dundalk's Stephen O'Donnell pictured at the launch of eir Sport's European Football coverage. eir Sport will broadcast all six of Dundalk's Europa League group games on a free to view basis. ©INPHO/James Crombie

"We're not just happy being in the group stages and getting turned over in the six games. We do want to be taking points off teams and playing good football. So that's what we're going to be aiming for."

O'Donnell is also adamant that a good performance in the Europa League will have little benefit if the Lilywhites do not retain the league title that they have won for the last two years.

"There's no point in doing what we've done this year and not win the league and then end up in the first round of Europa qualifying next year. The league's huge. Three-in-a-row would be an unbelievable achievement. It definitely is our main priority now to win the league again. We need to build on this and need to be regulars in the Champions League qualifying to see if you can get there. But yeah, the league is the be all and end all for us this season. Obviously we'll be treating the Europa and the FAI Cup with massive respect but the main goal is getting three in a row."  

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