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Europa Conference League

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Groundhopping: Bohemians (v PAOK, Aviva Stadium)

Date: 3 August 2021

Competition: Europa Conference League Third Qualifying Round

Result: Bohemians 2 – 1 PAOK Thessaloniki

Tickets: €20 adults, minimum two tickets due to covid restrictions.

Attendance: 8,000 sold out, covid restricted.

The game: Bohemians are getting increasingly impressive in these Europa Conference League games, so much so that it’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since they were in Europe. PAOK are serious opposition, featuring Shinji Kagawa and a number of other fill internationals (though it probably has to be said that Kagawa was the worst player on the pitch today).

Aside from the opening five minutes, whch saw PAOK on top, Bohs dominated much of prceddings, though they did survive a poor PAOK miss when they got clean through on goal early on. In response, a lovely move set up Ali Coote, who then grabbed a second from a deep corner that the PAOK goalkeeper made an absolute mess of.

PAOK got one back late on, as Bohs tired, but any kind of win here is a hgue result for Bohs given the disparity of resources. I particularly love that Bohs are fan owned, and while stuff like this won’t make waves on any major level, it’s nice to occasionally see on in the face of hyper-commercial football. Hopefully they can hang on away in Greece.

Groundhopping: Bohemians (v F91 Dudelange, Aviva Stadium)

Date: 30 July 2021

Competition: Europa Conference League Second Qualifying Round

Result: Bohemians 3 – 0 F91 Dudelange

Tickets: €20 adults, minimum two tickets due to covid restrictions.

Attendance: 8,000 sold out, covid restricted.

The game: Bohemians are starting to look like they belong in the national stadium, and looked in total control against F91 Dudelange, a side that should have been quite a challenge on paper. In fact, the game was so one-sided that there was no extended period, apart from arguably 10 minutes after half time, where you could say Dudelange were in charge.

Liam Burt and the goal machine Georgie Kelly stood out for Bohs, and despite the spacing, their fans slowly gravitated towards each other behind the goal and went increasingly wild as Bohs walked away with the tie, 3-0 on the night and 4-0 on aggregate. Really, really comfortable, and Bohs play PAOK from Greece in the next round.

Groundhopping: Dundalk (v Levadia Tallinn, Tallaght Stadium)

Date: 21 July 2021

Competition: Europa Conference League Second Qualifying Round

Result: Dundalk 2 – 2 Levadia Tallinn

Tickets: €20 adults, €10 kids (no extra fees, well done Dundalk).

Attendance: Around 800, under covid spacing restrictions

The game: Dundalk have faded quite a bit since the highs of beating BATE here to qualify for the Europe League group stages – and getting results in the group, too – a few years back. This side look a shadow of their former selves, and while they play some semi-decent football, it’s easy to see why they’re no longer threatening the upper echelons of the League of Ireland.

They look particularly susceptible to the break, based on this game, in which Levadia only seriously threatened to score maybe three or four times, and put away two. The first was the opening attack of the game, which fashioned a cross they put away.

Dundalk worked the ball nicely to equalise almost immediately, before Levadia got another on the break to lead 2-1 after only about 20 minutes. Dundalk equalised before half time and dominated the game from then on, and really should have won. They now need to score in Tallinn to go through, which isn’t ideal, but Levadia don’t look all that great, so I guess we’ll see what happens. UEFA coeffiecient points are something the League of Ireland really needs to help with European competition, so winning against sides like this is important for the league.