St Patrick’s Athletic stalwart Conan Byrne believes that experience in the ranks will be key to starting their Europa League campaign with a win as AS Jeunesse Esch visit Inchicore tonight.
The Saints welcome the Luxembourg side to Richmond Park (kick-off 7.45pm) for the first leg of the first qualifying round looking to create a League of Ireland record by progressing through a European round for a tenth time.
And Byrne, who played his 150th game for Pat’s last Friday, believes that senior players can make a difference in the tie against a team that finished fourth in last season’s Luxembourg league.
“I know a lot of lads have left, but a lot of us have European experience, the likes of myself, Brendan Clarke, Ger O'Brien and Christy Fagan, we've been around the block,” said the winger, who has played in Europe for the Saints and Sporting Fingal.
“The lads we've brought in have played in Europe at other clubs. Mark Timlin, David Cawley and sure we've got Keith Treacy in too and he's got the international experience there to help, and the Dennehys from Cork.
“We have the experience there, we've played together now for a good few months, so that shouldn't be a problem at all I don't think.
“It's a European tie so it'll be a tough game, there'll be no easy games in Europe.
“The lads have done a bit of homework on them and we think we'll know what to expect from them. We'll just have to go out and play our own game, that's the most important thing, try not to concentrate on them too much.
"Just focus on ourselves and hopefully get a good result.”
Manager Liam Buckley, whose side sit sixth in the Premier Division, added: “We've done quite a bit of homework on Jeunesse.
“It will be a reasonably tight game and I'm sure they'll believe that if they can come here and get a draw that it would leave them in a great position.
“From our end though, we'll be looking to take the initiative in the tie and look to get a lead to take over there next week.”
Jeunesse were last on Irish shores in 2014 when Dundalk recorded a 3-1 win at Oriel Park, completing a 5-1 aggregate victory in the second Europa League qualifying round.
In team news, the Dublin side remain without goalkeeper Conor O’Malley (thigh) and midfielder Jack Bayly (hamstring) through injury, though Republic of Ireland international Treacy should be back in contention after returning from injury.