DFC | Shields unfazed by reputations as Dundalk FC prepare for Rosenborg test

Lilywhites take on Norwegian champions at Oriel Park in first-leg

Dundalk midfielder Chris Shields says that names and reputations will count for nothing when their Champions League Second Qualifying Round first-leg tie with Rosenborg kicks off at Oriel Park.

Wednesday night’s match will be the Norwegian club’s 231st in continental football. One hundred and thirty-six of those have come in Europe’s premier competition but Shields said that would be of no significance when the whistle blows.

“They obviously have a great pedigree,” he told Dundalk Sport at the pre-match press conference in Oriel Park on Tuesday afternoon.

“They’ve won umpteen leagues in Norway and I remember watching them as a kid when they won 13-in-a-row in the late 90s and 2000's.

“But you have to get away from the name. If you didn’t do that you’d build yourself into a state of nervousness by watching their clips and thinking ‘Oh my God it’s Rosenborg.’

“The point is not to get too hung up on the name. It’s just another match and a player you’re marking.

“We’ve done our home work on them. Stephen Kenny is very thorough and we know what their strengths and weaknesses are. Now it’s about matching them on the pitch.”

Reputations certainly counted for little last year as Dundalk created history by becoming the first League of Ireland club to pick up points in the group stages of the Europa League. Shields, though, is not one for looking back and getting misty-eyed.

“Last year is last year,” he said. “It’s a new squad and it’s about going out and proving it all over again.

“I had some of the greatest nights of my career last year and I think a lot of the lads would say the same. Now, I want to replicate that because once you get a taste for it, you want it again and again.”

Those great nights from last year came on foreign fields. The memorable victories over BATE Borisov and Maccabi Tel-Aviv were recorded in Tallaght while Ciaran Kilduff’s history-making injury time equaliser against AZ Alkmaar came in Holland.

Tomorrow night’s fixture is a ‘proper’ home game and Shields is intent on making it a magical night on the Carrick Road.

“Having such a big game at Oriel, rather than Tallaght will help us,” he remarked. “The pitch is a lot closer to the crowd and there should be a fantastic atmosphere.

“As much as Dundalk fans travelled to Dublin last year, it wasn’t Oriel. It’s a closer knit ground here, the fans can make a lot more noise and hopefully that’s the case tomorrow.”

Now in his sixth season at the club, Shields is more aware than most what European football can bring to the town.

“You can see the buzz around the place,” he added. “I drove through it today and my arm is in bits from beeping at people!

“You never know how many times you’ll play in the Champions League in your career or how many times the club will be involved so you have to relish everything that goes along with it and I’m sure the supporters will do that.”

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