Irish League battlers Larne may tonight face their toughest assignment on their debut European journey – but midfielder John Herron admitted he wouldn’t have it another way.
Tiernan Lynch’s boys have already torn the Europa Conference League script to shreds by beating Welsh outfit Bala Town – in both legs – over the past fortnight.
The prize, along with €500,000 in financial gains, is a second round, first leg, showdown with crack Danish outfit AGF Aarhus at Inver Park tonight.
Lynch’s side may not have been given much hope against Bala, but they’ll go into their new challenge against a side managed by former Wimbledon and Norwich player David Nielson, as massive underdogs . . . which doesn’t annoy Herron in the least.
“You just never know in football,” claimed former Celtic midfielder Herron. “It’s a serious test. By all accounts, Aarhus performed well last season in the Danish League, which is a top division with some big clubs in there.
“The gaffer (Tiernan Lynch) had done his research on them, and we’ve got a game plan, which you need going into fixtures like this.
“Football is a funny game. They may work to a bigger budget than we do, but at the end of the day it’s 11 versus 11 players on the pitch.
“If we stay in the game long enough, anything can happen. Yes, they are a top team, but we are not bad ourselves. I know we will create chances and, with the attacking players we’ve got, we’ll look to spring a surprise.”
Larne’s success against Bala Town was based on a strong defensive performance, with strikers David McDaid and Ronan Hale providing the punch at the other end of the pitch.
Herron went on: “We were solid at the back against Bala and that set us up for two great results.
“We have two top strikers on form and we know we can create chances. The boys don’t even need a good chance . . . they can put away half-a-chance. Davy and Ronan, they have the ability to nick us a goal, as they did over the past couple of weeks.
“We like to defend from the front, so everyone has a role to play. We know it’s going to be a tough game, but these are the type of matches we want to be involved in.
“That’s one of the reasons I came to this club. We need to be on top of our game to come through it, but these are the type of challenges we relish.
“It just shows exactly where this club is going along everyone who is involved in it. We are all looking forward to it, we’ll be giving it our best shot.
“We take great pride in our previous two results – especially keeping clean sheets in both ties. If you manage to do that, you are always in with a chance.
“I know we play some great football, but everyone knows that any football game is won and lost in both boxes.
“We have been defending well as a team, so we must continue to do that. And, when the chances come at the other end, we have the players to put them away.”
Herron admits the soaring temperatures could also play a massive part, adding: “The British perception of the weather is complaining about the rain and, when the sun arrives, they tend to say it’s too hot.
“Personally, I enjoy playing in the nice weather.
“It will be like playing on the Continent, it may suit the Danes a little bit more.
“It’s great playing in front of our home fans again -- the supporters are a massive part of the football club.
“It’s not just the badge we, as players, are playing for, its for the town, the community and everyone involved in it.”