As the European competition qualifying stages come back round again, the Champions League and Europa League respectively, you can feel a real buzz amongst the fans of clubs that are competing and even the fans of clubs that are not.
Tough tests await
Of course the fans of the competing clubs are hoping for their team to triumph; however, there is a mutual respect and well wishing between all fans of the Airtricity League's clubs. This time around the clubs which are competing are as follows; St Patrick's Athletic will be the only club from the league to feature in the Champions League with the league champions facing a very tricky task against Poland's most successful club, Legia Warsaw.
The league will have three competitors in the Europa League, firstly, Dundalk who have already secured a very convincing 2-0 away win against Luxembourg's Jeunesse. Secondly, Derry City who will play Welsh Premier League side, Aberystwyth Town FC, with their home leg being constested on Thursday night in the Brandywell. Finally, Sligo Rovers will play the first leg of their tie against FK Banga Gargždai away in Lithuania. All three clubs will conclude their Europa League ties mext Thursday.
Shamrock Rovers set the benchmark
The Airtricity League teams haven't always been too successful in European competitions; however Shamrock Rovers have been the most successful by far being the first club to partake in a European competition and then in the 2011-12 Europa League, they became the first every Airtricity League side to negotiate the qualifying stages and reach the group stage however they will not take part this year.
A huge victory for not only the club but for Irish football with every Irish football fan willing them on in their campaign and this year is no different with it evident already to see the togetherness of the fans at such an early stage of each individual club's campaign.
Hopefully another club can go as far as Shamrock Rovers this year to announce the league on the European stage and to show all those doubters that they are not there just to make up the numbers.
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