by Jonny Stapleton
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Jonny Stapleton

Shamrock Rovers will begin the final step toward the Europa League group stages in Hungry tonight.

The Hoops secured European group stage football with a victory over Shkupi in North Macedonia last week but need to beat Hungarian champions Ferencvaros to upgrade from European Conference to Europa League football.

The tie takes place over two legs, the first of which plays out in Budapest tonight with the return leg in Dublin on Thursday 25 August.  

Ferencvaros are the champions of Hungary and were knocked out of the Champions League qualification race by Azerbaijan outfit Qarabag last week.

Rovers will have the services of teen striker Aidomo Emakhu, as they try to upset a side they last faced in 1985 in a bid to join Manchester United and the like in the group stage of European football’s second tournament.

There is interest from a number of Championship clubs in the 18-year-old who has scored two important goals off the bench along this European journey.

Indeed, Millwall have had two bids rejected in recent weeks meaning the new fan’  favourite will be available for selection and hopeful of scoring a famous winning goal for the Tallaght side.

Emakhu has 18 months left on his contract so The Hoops’ are under no pressure to sell – and reports suggest he is happy to learn under Stephen Bradley.

Meanwhile, St Patrick’s Athletic’s run in Europe came to an end at Tallaght Stadium last Thursday.

St Pat’s lost 2-0 on the night to CSKA Sofia in their Conference League tie, going out 2-1 on aggregate. The penalty that decided the tie came via handball, but appeared to strike the arm of a CSKA player first. Midfielder Jamie Lennon said it was a frustrating result after their victory in Bulgaria in the first leg.

9 August 2022; Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley celebrates after his side’s victory in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round second leg match between Shkupi and Shamrock Rovers at Arena Todor Proeski in Skopje, North Macedonia. Photo by Ognen Teofilovski/Sportsfile

“We had plenty of chances, probably had the better chances in the game, but we just couldn’t take them tonight. You couldn’t fault anyone’s attitude.”

“We got the crowd on our side from minute one with the first couple of tackles and the crowd were up for it, we fed off that on the pitch, but it just didn’t happen for us tonight and that’s disappointing.”

Shamrock Rovers celebrate their UEFA Europa League third qualifying round second leg win over Shkupi

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