Fifteen years on since the introduction of the February-November (“Summer Soccer”) schedule in the League of Ireland (LOI) this post offers a brief description of our performance in the Champions League competition. Next, I’ll do a similar post for LOI clubs in the Europa Cup.
The table below catalogs the 23 Champions League matches LOI clubs have participated in since the 04/05 competition. While the qualification structure changed in 2010 to create a ‘Champions Route’, I’ve kept the labelling consistent for simplicity– i.e. Round 1 is the first qualification match a team played and so on.
- Six times a LOI club has reached the 2nd phase of qualifying and only twice have we reached the final qualifying round; Shelbourne (04/05) and Dundalk (16/17).
- If not for some structural issues, progression could have been more impressive (i.e. Shelbourne relinquished their place in the 07/08 competition). Also, there has been some disappointing results – Shamrock Rovers were deemed to have been handed a slice of luck, drawing FK Ekranas in 12/13 but they were beaten 1-2. The Lithuanians were thrashed 11-0 by Anderlecht in the next round!
- Scoring goals is not necessarily a problem in the earlier rounds, although we may not be scoring enough at home – LOI clubs have actually scored more goals away (19) than at home (18). Naturally, these will get harder to score in the later rounds and Robbie Benson’s cracker is the only goal a LOI club has scored over 360 minutes of action in the final qualification phase.
- The major challenge is reducing goals conceded away from home (of course this is the challenge for most teams). LOI clubs have conceded 17 goals at home in the qualification phase over the last 15 years but have shipped 44 away from home. On average our representatives concede 2 goals in the away leg.