Dundalk face a stiff task as they compete in the group stages of the Europa League for the first time after they were grouped with Zenit St Petersburg, AZ Alkmaar and Maccabi Tel-Aviv at the draw in Monaco this afternoon. 

Stephen Kenny's men and the Dundalk supporters will have plenty of travelling to do, as they face trips to Russia, the Netherlands and Israel.

The return trip to Maccabi Tel Aviv is 5,020 miles, getting to Zenit St Petersburg and back is a 2,860-mile trip, while the AZ Alkmaar away encounter means covering 930 miles. 

Speaking to RTÉ Sport, Kenny said: “Obviously it’s a big step up going into the group stages.

"They are not one-off games...accumulation of points is the priority and we’ve got to do our utmost to get some results on the board.

"We’ve shown over the games that we’re an even match for any of those teams when we play well."

It is perhaps not the draw that the Lilywhites would have hoped for, missing out on more lucrative ties with the likes of Manchester United, Inter Milan, Roma and Villareal, and taking on some of the highest-ranked teams from each pot.

Dundalk’s first match in the Europa League group phase comes against AZ in the AFAS Stadion in Alkmar on Thursday, 15 September.

The longest trip of what promises to be an arduous campaign - at least from a travel perspective - comes in their final group game as they face Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday, 8 December in Netanya.  

Jose Mourinho has been handed a testing group for his first European campaign with Manchester United as they face Fenerbahce, Feyenoord and Zorya Luhansk of the Ukraine.

Southampton, meanwhile will will play Inter Milan, Sparta Prague and Hapoel Be'er Sheva.

The match dates for the group stage are 15 and 29 September, 20 October, 3 and 24 November, and 8 December.

Dundalk's Europa League Group D fixtures 

Thursday 15 September - AZ v Dundalk FC

Thursday 29 September - Dundalk v Maccabi Tel Aviv

Thursday 20 October - Dundalk v Zenit St Petersburg

Thursday 3 November - Zenit St Petersburg v Dundalk

Thursday 24 November - Dundalk v AZ

Thursday 8 December - Maccabi Tel Aviv v Dundalk 

Group A: Man Utd, Fenerbahce, Feyenoord, Zarya Luhansk
Group B: Olympiacos, Apoel Nicosia, Young Boys, Astana
Group C: Anderlecht, St Etienne, Mainz, Qabala
Group D: Zenit St Petersburg, AZ, Maccabi Tel-Avivi, Dundalk
Group E: Plzen, Roma, Austria Vienna, FC Astra Giurgiu
Group F: Athletic Bilbao, Genk, Rapid Vienna, Sassuolo
Group G: Ajax, Standard Liege, Celta Vigo, Panathinaikos
Group H: Shaktar Donetsk, Braga, AA Gent, Konyaspor
Group I: Schalke 04, FC Red Bull Salzburg, Krasnodar, Nice
Group J: Fiorentina, PAOK Salonika, Liberec, FK Karabakh
Group K: Inter Milan, Sparta Prague, Southampton, Hapoel Beer Sheva
Group L: Villarreal, Steaua Bucuresti, FC Zurich, Osmanlispor