A late Ciaran Kilduff equaliser salvaged a draw for ten-man Dundalk against AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League last night.
The Lilywhites were playing in the group stage of the competition for the first time and a great account of themselves against the Eredvisie side.
Indeed, the result means that they are the first Irish side ever to earn a point in Europe.
However, things looked ominous when they went a goal down to Stijn Wuytens’ opener on the hour mark, before skipper Stephen O’Donnell was given his marching orders in the 71st minute for a second yellow card.
Not for the first time though, Stephen Kenny’s side refused to give up and substitute Kilduff, who broke his back in April, stepped up to the plate and headed home Daryl Horgan’s free kick.
I’ve had a tough year myself, and this little league probably gets looked down on a bit, but it’s a league with passionate supporters and passionate players.
It’s not just for myself or the team tonight, it’s for the League of Ireland. A lot of people don’t take much interest in it. A lot of people maybe only hear about the big game, but we go in and we work hard every day.
– Ciaran Kilduff
As well as the excellent result, Dundalk will benefit financially from Kilduff’s late goal – they pocked €120,000 for the Europa League draw, €20,000 more than they earned for winning the League of Ireland in 2015.
Next up for Dundalk is game against Maccabi Tel Aviv which will take place at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin on September 29.