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Larne want to be more than just one-hit wonders in Europe, insists captain Hughes

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Jeff Hughes celebrates Larne's opener at Inver Park (Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press)

Jeff Hughes celebrates Larne's opener at Inver Park (Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press)

Jeff Hughes celebrates Larne's opener at Inver Park (Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press)

Larne captain Jeff Hughes insists what we are seeing from the team in Europe won't be a "one season thing" as the club set their sights on more continental success.

The Inver Reds are exceeding all expectations having won their first three games in Europe after defeating Danish side AGF Aarhus 2-1 at Inver Park in the UEFA Europa Conference League on Thursday.

Prior to that, Tiernan Lynch's side dispatched Bala Town in both legs of their first qualifying round tie to set up the second round clash with Aarhus, but their stunning run didn't stop there.

Davy McDaid and Dean Jarvis both struck for Larne to shock the Danes, who recently spent €1m on Polish striker Dawid Kurminowski, in the first leg and they will take a slender one-goal lead to Aarhus next week.

But rather than be taken back by their result, skipper Hughes claims this is where the club want to be and that they have to treat this as the start rather than a freak result.

"This isn't a one-season thing. We've been building how we play for a long time and it's been drilled into us for a long time," said Hughes.

"No matter who you play or where you play, we try to play our way. It's coming to the forefront now and you can see we possess a lot of quality in the way we play.

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"I don't really know what to say. It's a dream come true and it's fantastic for the whole town."

Indeed, even Aarhus' late consolation goal - an own goal from goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson - was against the run of play, such was the Inver Reds' control on proceedings.

That was a sentiment felt within the squad, too, with Hughes even sounding a little disappointed that they are not taking a bigger advantage into the second leg at the Ceres Park on Thursday.

"It was outstanding. It's an unknown for us, playing in Europe, but I thought we were absolutely brilliant and, to be honest, I thought we were unlucky not to win by more," lamented Hughes.

"We were relatively comfortable for most of the night. They possess a lot of quality but for whatever reason we nullified them tonight. We scored two good goals and it could have been more."

"Dream start with Davy scoring, then we were pretty deep and compact, but we were comfortable and then we hit them on the break again. We grew into the game in the second half and it could have been more."

Of course, the job is only half done and Aarhus will likely still be favourites to progress after next week's second leg on home turf, but Hughes is remaining positive as they prepare to head away.

"We'll be up against it on their turf. I don't know if they took us lightly or if we were very good tonight, but it'll be a tough game out there but we'll give all to try and progress," said the midfielder.

"You want to test yourself against the best you can and Europe is a big test for us. We know we have to be on our game to get anything against them at their place."


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