SHAMROCK ROVERS OPEN their European campaign with a Champions League second round qualifier against FK Ekranas tonight (8pm kick-off).
The Hoops made history in 2011 by becoming the first Irish club to secure a spot in the group stages of a European competition as Michael O’Neill led his side out against Tottenham Hotspur, Rubin Kazan and PAOK Salonika.
O’Neill has since departed for the Northern Ireland post and Stephen Kenny has so far struggled to fill his boots.
Domestically, Rovers are ten points off league leaders Sligo Rovers due to a number of disappointing results – the most humiliating of which was a 4-0 defeat to rivals Bohemians at Dalymount last month.
The former Derry City boss is hell-bent on turning things around at the club, however, and a win in Tallaght tonight would certainly ease the pressure he’s been feeling in recent weeks.
Lithuanian outfit Ekranas were double winners last season but have not played Irish opposition since 2005 when Cork City knocked them out of the UEFA Cup thanks to a 2-1 aggregate win.
On tonight’s game, Kenny told ShamrockRovers.ie: “We are very proud to be the league and the country’s representatives in the Champions League – the top club competition in football.
Ekranas have won their league four years in a row, and they’ll have no fear coming here. But we have done well at home this season, and our aim is to continue that tomorrow night.
“The players gained a lot of experience in last year’s campaign and that should stand to us over the two legs. Our results haven’t been consistent lately, but we have every belief in what we are doing, and we have confidence going into the game.”
Rovers are without winger Aaron Greene and Ciaran Kilduff tonight while there’s a doubt over the fitness of defender Ken Oman.