Cliftonville's Paddy McLaughlin looking forward to Europa League tie at Barry Town United
Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin is looking forward to his first taste of European football as a manager.
The Reds will face Welsh side Barry Town United in the Europa League Preliminary Round at the Leckwith Stadium in Wales, on Thursday, June 27, and the Creggan man insists his side isn't travelling to Wales just to make the numbers and wants to take home a positive result for the return leg at Solitude a week later.
"They finished third in their league last year and they have had a good campaign, so it's going to be tough," stated the ex-Institute gaffer.
"For the club as a whole European football is big and it's brilliant to be involved. It's the highest level we can compete at as players and as managers, so we are delighted to be part of it, but we don't want to just go there for a day out.
"We want to go into the tie and challenge to try to get into the next round, which would be massive for the club and the players to progress.
"We want to stay in the competition as long as possible and the rewards that come with that are massive, so, as I said, we aren't going to Wales for the first leg, for a day out, we're going to try and get a result, so that we can progress.
"It's good to know our opponents now, so we can get our heads down and start doing our home work on them and start focusing in on them and we have two weeks now to prepare for the first leg in Wales."
Ironically, the Welshmen will face Ballymena United at Dixon Park, on Saturday, June 22, while on the same day the Solitude side travel to Wales to take on Connah’s Quay Nomads.
"You couldn't make it up, they are playing a friendly here and we are playing a friendly in Wales on the same day," he laughed.
"But we'll go to Wales with a full squad in preparation of our European game, but yeah it's ironic that both sets of players are going in the opposite direction on the same day, but it is what it is, and we'll get on with it."
As for the draw itself McLaughlin admits while it will be tough for his players, he feels supporters and the chairmen of both clubs will be happy with the tie.
"It's a good draw for both clubs, I suppose, in terms of logistics and I'm sure both chairmen and supporters are happy with the draw," he explained.
"Look you could have been drawn away at Gibraltar, Luxembourg and Kosovo and that would have been a nightmare in terms of travelling and stuff, but thankfully we are going to Wales."