Stephen Kenny proud of Dundalk's success
Since the start of Dundalk's European adventure, Stephen Kenny has been struck by the anecdotes of strangers who have stopped to offer good wishes.
It has confirmed the manager's belief that when they step out in the Europa League, Dundalk's players are not just representing the club, they are flying the flag for Ireland.
"I tell them that nearly every day," says Kenny. "And they do understand that. We are representing Irish football.
"We are Ireland's representatives, so we are representing our country."
He believes that Dundalk's approach to games has helped to grow the affiliation, explaining: "They're not seeing a team playing a traditional way, preventing a team nicking a goal and putting in a strong defensive performance. They're seeing a team expressing themselves and trying to take top-class international players on consistently and with confidence."
Second with two games remaining is an extraordinary position,especially when Kenny felt there was a belief out there - but never in his dressing-room - that taking just a point from the group phase would be a good return.
"It (the attention) is all great but we mustn't let it deflect our attention from what we need to do," said Kenny.
Dundalk's position will be clearer ahead of kick-off when they learn the result of the meeting of group winners Zenit St Petersburg and Maccabi Tel Aviv this afternoon.
If Maccabi do not beat the already qualified Russians then Dundalk know that a 0-0 or 1-1 draw tonight and any draw away in Israel in two weeks' time will be enough to put them through to the round of 32.
"My instruction to the players will be to go and try and win the game," said Kenny.
""But you can't ignore that fact. In the last 15 minutes, do you throw the kitchen sink at it if there's not too much difference between a draw and a win? These are things I have to consider. Sometimes having that grey area can lead to some caution and can inhibit your play."