Late Thursday night, Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley spoke about his discussions with the players in January.

It was a gathering with the goal of qualifying for the group stage of the European Conference League. This goal came via the backdoor route of winning one Champions league tie and losing the next. in the Europa League.

But the mission statement had another element. “January’s talk wasn’t about getting in a group and throwing a party,” Bradley said, outlining how he wants to be the first Irish team to reach the knockout stage. We’re no fools, we know the draw has to be nice, but that’s what we’re aiming for.”

Yesterday afternoon, the Rovers Group learned their fate. In the locker room, there were mixed opinions on what they wanted.

It was a disappointment for the players who dreamed of a spectacular tie with Villarreal, West Ham and Fiorentina.

And no joy for an individual who hoped Rovers would benefit from third seed status by taking an average side in pot 4. An encounter they would have imagined in a group stage daydream.

Eventually the rover landed something in the middle. They have no reason to be afraid of pools made up of Ghent (Belgium), Molde (Norway) and Yulegarden (Sweden), but it’s not a great result either.

The Swedes are only ranked below Rovers because they do not regularly participate in European competition, but they are challenging the top of the competitive league.

Molde is top of the Norwegian top flight and came under pressure after a shock defeat in the first leg before scoring four goals in Austria to eliminate Wolfsberger.

Ironically, Supreme Seed’s main character, Ghent, looks more like a rope. They suffered a heavy defeat to Omonia Nicosia in the second leg and were relegated from the Europa League, while Yulegarden overpowered Apoel in the second leg to qualify.

In fact, it’s quite possible that all six matches will be equally difficult for the League of Ireland champions.

Despite this, we are confident that veteran goalkeeper Alan Mannus will remain coy about whether he will play after the end of this season. especially.

Andy Lyons’ late header against Ferencvaros on Thursday meant nothing in a tie-breaking situation in Hungary, but they maintain their record of 100% home wins in continental matches this season.

“Looking at the teams we played against, Ludogorets and Ferencvaros in particular, are two teams that have made it to the group stage and the results we got against them is a difficult team for us. It sends the message that it is.” Rovers is learning fixture order today.

“We have played teams from Sweden[AIK]and Norway[Bran]in the last few years and we have had good results. We know we can provide a tough game for

Rover respects good opponents. However, they should not be intimidated by them.

Rovers’ European Conference League rivalry

Ghent (Belgium)

how did they get here?
Last year’s third-place finish in the Belgian League qualified them for the Europa League play-offs after a 4-0 loss to Neil Lennon’s Omonia Nicosia.

European pedigree?
Top seed considering some decent runs and Belgium’s high standing. Advanced to the last 16 in the conference league last season.

best known?
They have a top class academy with Kevin De Bruyne being their most high profile export

The club is based in Ghent, a city of 260,000 inhabitants. They play at his 20,000-capacity Ghelamco Arena.

Molde (Norway)

how did they get here?
They finished second in the top flight, three points behind the Bodo Glimt side, who narrowly missed out on the Champions League. The Norwegian league leader has battled through his three conference league rounds with Elfsborg (Sweden), Kiswalda (Hungary) and Wolfsberger (Austria).

European pedigree?
This was the previous two group stage runs in the Europa League, including a 2020 home-and-away win against Dundalk. In 2016, they led the group alongside Fenerbahçe, Ajax and Sevilla.

best known?
The club that launched the career of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. After starring as a player, he had two successful careers as a manager.

Although Molde has a population of just over 26,000, it still has the Aker Stadium with artificial pitches that can hold 11,000 people.

Yule Gardens IF (Sweden)

how did they get here?
Last season in Sweden, he finished third, two points behind the leaders in a thrilling title fight. We have bypassed Rijeka (Croatia), Cepsi (Romania) and Apoel Nicosia (Cyprus) to get here.

European pedigree?
This is their first group stage campaign. They were among the teams that Shamrock Rovers and Cork knocked out. I was.

best known?
When they traveled to Dublin to play Rovers in 2002, they had a rabid fan base. Yulegarden is his 12-time champion of Sweden.

Based in Stockholm’s Johanneshov district, they play at the 30,000 Tele2 stadium.

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