Dundalk head into their UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying Round meeting with Rosenborg in Trondheim knowing that they must get a result better than their 1-1 first leg result to progress to the next phase. One Irishman who has plenty of experi
Dundalk head into their UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying Round meeting with Rosenborg in Trondheim knowing that they must get a result better than their 1-1 first leg result to progress to the next phase.
One Irishman who has plenty of experience of Rosenborg’s quality is former Under 21 international goalkeeper Sean McDermott, who plays for Norwegian top flight outfit Kristiansund BK.
The 24-year-old was born in Norway but his father is from Donegal and growing up he knew all about Rosenborg’s performances on the Champions League stage.
He believes that the country’s most famous club probably have too much firepower for Stephen Kenny’s side but knows that there can be chinks in the Rosenborg armour.
His Kristiansund BK side drew 3-3 with the Norwegians champions earlier this month and McDermott says he saw the strengths and weaknesses of their side that day.
“We got a lot of crosses into the box that and probably took advantage of some sloppiness in their defence,” he said.
“If you were to maybe point to a weakness they have then it could be in terms of their mental side of things where you need to kill games off.
“I don’t know if they can cope with the pressure. Even when they win here they’re criticised for not winning by more so every time they play they have that pressure upon them.”
McDermott saw the highlights of the 1-1 draw at Oriel Park and feels that Ivar Koteng’s side will be considered favourites at Lerkendal Station tomorrow.
“From what I saw it was an even game but I think Rosenborg were happy enough with it. I think they’ll be favourites to go through at home,” he said.
“Rosenborg are still a very big club with all of their Champions League history. They’re the biggest club in Norway but I think they’re a bit off that level now.
“They will probably beat Dundalk but I can’t see them beating Celtic. It would be good for Norwegian football for them to get to the Champions League again but that’s a lot of pressure to have on their shoulders.
“In Norway they’re the strongest club and in the last two years had already won the league by this stage. They’ll most likely win it again this year. They are solid everywhere because they sign the best players from around the league.”
While McDermott’s former Arsenal club-mate Nicklas Bendtner received most of the attention in the first leg, he feels that Icelandic international Matthías Vilhjálmsson is their most dangerous asset.
“Vilhjálmsson is the key player. They were relying on Bentnder because they paid money for him but Vilhjálmsson has made a big impact for them. Pål André Helland has been injured and they do miss him when he’s not there.
“They always play 4-3-3 and are very dangerous out wide but if you can frustrate them for a long time like Dundalk did in first game then when the pressure is on them they may slip up.”
McDermott is back enjoying his football in the country’s top flight, the Eliteserien, as his young club enjoys their first season at this level. He hopes his form will catch the eye of Martin O’Neill in due course.
“I feel personally I’ve had a good season. Its the first time the team has played in this division and we’ve good young players,” he said.
“I’m still looking to push forward in my career and play in the major leagues in the world but right now it’s a very good level for me. I’m playing well and I hope the Irish coaches are aware of how I’m playing.
“At the start we struggled but outside of the first game against Molde we’re unbeaten at home. If we keep that up I think we’ll do well in the second half of the season.
“We’re in the fourth round of the cup and have a team from a lower division in the next phase. If we win that we’ll be in the quarter-finals and we’d love to get a cup run going to really make for a very good season.”