Drogheda United FC are dreaming of a clash with Scottish side Hibernians FC – managed by Irishman Pat Fenlon – after they earned a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League first qualifying round tie with Malmö FF.
Back in UEFA competition for the first time since 2008, when they came close to knocking FC Dynamo Kyiv out of the UEFA Champions League, Drogheda frustrated Malmö at Dublin's Tallaght Stadium. The Irish club survived with ten men after Ryan Brennan was sent off for a second bookable offence 15 minutes from time, giving Mick Cooke's team hope of progress to the second qualifying round.
"We showed great courage and we will go over there to Sweden next week to try and get an away goal and make a real tie of it," said Cooke. The 61-year-old was getting his first taste of UEFA action as a coach, and his squad are also inexperienced at this level with only a handful of players, like veteran striker Gary O'Neill, having played in UEFA competition previously.
It was one of those European debutants who helped United stay in the tie Romanian-Italian goalkeeper Gabriel Sava denying Markus Halsti and Tokelo Rantie as the ten men clung on. "We had just two lads in the XI with European experience," Cooke said. "To keep the tie alive against Malmö, especially with ten men, showed great character. We're underdogs but hopefully we can get an away goal."