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British and Irish sides embark on Europa League bids

Cork City boss John Caulfield warned his League of Ireland Premier Division leaders not to expect an easy ride in the first leg of their Europa League first-round qualifier away against Estonian outfit Levadia Tallinn.

The Leesiders are currently 15 points clear at the top of the table, and with a game in hand on Dundalk after extending their unbeaten league campaign to 19 games.

Caulfield, though, will not allow any complacency in Parnu.

"Obviously, we have done our research on Levadia, t hey are second in the table and they have four or five very strong players," the Cork City manager said.

" We have looked at them, they are very good going forward and create lots of chances. They are quick up front, very direct and they get the ball into the box."

Caulfield added on " In my opinion, they look like a team that would be in the top four in our own league, and the intensity of the top games in the league here is similar to our own."

Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley, meanwhile, is determined to take things one step at a time as his side embark on their quest to reach the group stages at Stjarnan in Iceland.

Rovers have not been past the first qualifying round in two years, but go into Thursday's first leg at the 1,000 capacity Samsungvollur Stadium with the momentum of a four-match unbeaten run.

Bradley is determined the Dublin side will not lose focus on the challenge ahead.

"It (reaching the group stages) is miles away at the minute. We just need to go and try and get through this leg and then see what the draw might bring us," Bradley said, quoted on

"Thursday and the following Thursday will be tough games because they are a good side and we need to concentrate on that first of all."

Elsewhere in the first qualifying round, Derry head to Midtjylland in Denmark, while Northern Ireland Football League Premiership side Ballymena travel to Odd in Norway.

Should David Jeffrey's men progress through the tie, then they would tackle the winners of Welsh Premier League team Bala Town and Liechtenstein outfit Vaduz.

Connah's Quay Nomads host HJK Helsinki, while Northern Ireland's Crusaders take on Latvian team Liepaja, Coleraine travel to Haugesund of Norway, while Bangor City are away in the first leg to Danish team Lyngby.


From Belfast Telegraph