Daniel Kelly relishing return to Gibraltar and first European venture with Derry City

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​DANIEL Kelly reckons the sweltering heat could have a major bearing on Derry City's Uefa Conference League first round qualifier as temperatures are set to hit highs of 30 degrees in Gibraltar on Thursday.

​The winger is preparing to pack his bags for his first venture in Europe with the Candy Stripes but he's no stranger to playing on the continent and has first hand knowledge of Derry's opponents Bruno's Magpies and the conditions the Brandywell club will face on the Iberian peninsula.

It's the favourite time of the year for Kelly and playing in Europe is what he dreamed of as a youngster growing up in Dublin.

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He's enjoyed some memorable nights with Dundalk over recent years and is hoping to create some special memories with the Foylesiders this year.

Daniel Kelly, pictured against Sligo last week, is relishing playing in Europe again.Daniel Kelly, pictured against Sligo last week, is relishing playing in Europe again.
Daniel Kelly, pictured against Sligo last week, is relishing playing in Europe again.

"When we played them last year I think it was 36 or nearly 38 degrees by the time we were playing the match," he recalled. "I think it was a 5pm kick-off local time over there so it was very, very hot.

"So we had to sort of change how we set up in that sense because we couldn't really press over there because you would be knackered after 10 minutes. We probably should've beat them over there. We had a couple of chances.

"Reading stuff about them, it seems they've gotten better over the last year. I think they have a new manager back in as well so it will be a very tough game.

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"We didn't beat them over there. We only beat them at home so they will be trying to upset us and try to sit in and we'll have to try and break them down. It will be a tough game but one we look forward to."

Danish powerhouse Copenhagen is the prize dangling for the winners in the second round but Kelly warned Derry can't afford to underestimate the Gibraltarians.

"Sure the amount of upsets you see in Europe. I'd imagine we would be down as favourites but it's these guys who usually catch teams out. So we just have to focus on the first round and not be thinking about potentially meeting Copenhagen because it would backfire on us. Hopefully we can come back with a decent result and see what happens then."

With the league title tilt put on the backburner for now, Kelly relishes testing himself against European opposition - one of the 'perks' of playing with the top teams in Ireland.

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"I think that's one of the perks of playing in Ireland. You get to play European football. It's the best time of the year by a mile. I think if you ask every player they'll say the same. There's big hype around it. You get the chance to play in huge games. You're playing against players you want to be testing yourself against. You're playing against teams like our potential opponents in round two.

"It's what you dream of when you're growing up as a footballer. You want to be playing in these big games and showing what you're about. It's class."

The prospect of meeting Copenhagen who defeated Man United in last season's Champions League group stages before being knocked out by Man City in the last 16, is highly motivating for both sets of players.

"When you actually think about it [beating Man United] it is a bit mad to be fair. You don't want to be thinking about Copenhagen too much but we could use it as ammo to say' 'Listen, if we get through this we're testing ourselves against the best of the best almost.

"It's something we're really looking forward to and hopefully we can do the job."