Tonight’s game against Jeunesse d’Esch represents the first experience of football on the continent for a number of Dundalk’s players but included in the Lilywhites ranks is experienced European campaigner Ruaidhri Higgins.
Despite being just 29-years of age, Higgins is a veteran when it comes to European football. If he plays some part against Jeunnesse it will be his 13th appearance against foreign opposition.
His first taste of those special nights came in 2006 when Derry City beat IFK Gothenburg and Gretna before going down to French giants Paris St Germain, a run that still fills the Limavady man full of pride.
“It’s always a big occasion playing in Europe,” said Higgins. “Luxembourg is one of the countries I haven’t played in before so it’s another stamp on my passport,” he smiled.
“Winning home and away against IFK Gothenburg is still, to this day, the highlight of my career. They won the UEFA Cup twice and we beat them home and away with Derry. I get goosebumps now just thinking about it. Hopefully there are more nights like that to come.”
Dundalk travel to Luxembourg in fine fettle. Top of the league and unbeaten in nine games, Higgins believes they should have no fear at the Stade de la Frontiere.
“The aim is to go and win the game, like any game,” he said. “Europe might faze people but it shouldn’t. There has been some very good Irish results in Europe over the years and we should be going there confident. We have every reason to be, we have been outstanding in the first half of the season.”
Dundalk’s latest outing came last Friday night when Richie Towell’s 95th minute equalizer rescued a point against Higgins’ old employers at The Brandywell.
“You never know what that point could mean come the end of the season,” remarked Higgins afterwards. “Derry City are coming into a bit of form now and they will give every team that comes to The Brandywell a right good game now.
“It’s strange coming back. I played almost 300 times for Derry, I had an unbelievable time and loved every minute of it but I’m glad we nicked a point.
“We might have went over to Luxembourg a bit flat if we didn’t get anything out of tonight but we’ll travel there with confidence now.”