"This is as good as it gets," says Dundalk striker David McMillan, the part-time architect in dreamland with only Legia Warszawa standing between his side and the group stage.
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Dundalk forward and part-time architect David McMillan is in dreamland: only Legia Warszawa stand between his team and the UEFA Champions League group stage.
The 27-year-old's tally of five goals has helped Stephen Kenny's men go further in qualifying than any Irish club have previously managed in this competition. "Everything that has fallen to me I seem to have connected well with and it has hit the back of the net," said McMillan. "Things have gone through keepers' legs or hit the post and gone in; other weeks that doesn't happen."
Now McMillan is hoping to ride his luck into the group stage. Dundalk have already eliminated Iceland's FH Hafnarfjördur and Belarusian champions BATE Borisov – on Wednesday comes perhaps the biggest tie in their history. "Legia are a great side and we're going to be massive underdogs," the joint-top scorer in this season's competition conceded. "They've had some great results in Europe, but our squad is feeling fit and strong."
With good reason, too. The club from just south of the border with Northern Ireland are on course for a third consecutive league title in 2016 – their 12th in total. They have already exceeded all expectations in Europe, making it through successive European ties for the first time. Such exploits might turn some players, but McMillan has his feet firmly on the ground.
Having played for UCD – University College Dublin – while studying for his degree, he is not on the lookout for any big career moves right now. He mixes his passion for football with his calling as an architect, working part-time for a Dublin firm.
"If a full-time opportunity [in football] came, it would have to be a really brilliant opportunity. Where I am at the moment is – as you can see from the last few weeks – well, it doesn't really get much better," he said. "Unless you move to the Premier League, which ain't going to happen, this is as good as it gets."