Champagne Football is right – Sure where would you get it!

At a time when Irish football is reeling from the gross mis-management of the Association as outlined by two fantastic journalists who penned the superb “Champagne Football”, not to mention the fact that all League of Ireland clubs, like so many around the globe, are fretting about their financial viability due to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, reigning champions Dundalk have no such worries after hitting the jackpot at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday night.

The 3-1 win over Faroe Islands club KI Klaksvik earned The Lilywhites a place in the group stages of the Europa League, guaranteeing them a windfall of at least €2.92 million. And, for any victory they might pick up in that group, they’ll earn another €570,000, while each draw would yield them €190,000.
To put it in context, Dundalk received just over €100,000 for winning the League of Ireland Premier Division title last season.

It is just the third time that an Irish club has reached the group stages of the competition, the second tier of European football after the Champions League, Shamrock Rovers achieving the feat in 2011, Dundalk, under current Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny doing it again in 2016.

The County Louth club went into the hat for Friday’s draw along with a whole bunch of European footballing royalty and were pleased to draw Arsenal, Rapid Vienna and Molde.

Goals from Sean Murray, Daniel Cleary and Daniel Kelly secured the victory against a team aiming to become the first from the Faroe Islands to qualify for the latter stages of a European competition.

Italian Filippo Giovagnoli’s recent appointment as manager of Dundalk was largely greeted with responses along the lines of “Who?!” and “what?!”, his CV less than lengthy, prompting him to note in advance of the game that he had “a few knives in my back”.

I can’t help but thinking there are some great people no longer with us who were ardent Lilywhite supporters that would have gathered in Heaven this evening.......... among them Harry Taaffe, Jim Murphy, John O'Hanlon, Vincie Cranny, Paul Thornton, Brendan and Mary Conachy, Neil Ross, Mickey Myers, Marty Shields, John Belton, Peter Gaughran, Eamonn Hiney, Jim Malone, Peadar Halpin, Enda McGuill, Jimmy Hasty, Tom Hearty, Barry Kehoe, Mickey Fox, Seamie Tuite, Barlow Rafferty, Tom McNulty Snr, Des Denning, Martin Gonnelly, Tommy MacConville, Yorkie Byrne and I can almost hear the legendary Mary McElligott roaring; "Come on Dundalk, Come on Lads, Come on Martin Lawlor get them going, Come on Dundalk"........ and the odd outburst of "Dirty Rovers!!".

Come full-time at The Aviva, Filipo was beaming.

Who would he like Dundalk to be drawn against? Spurs, and their self-effacing gaffer.

“I would like to play against José Mourinho, for sure. He’s an icon of soccer, just to meet him would be amazing,” he said.

Filippo is “The Special One” in El Paso today!


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