Europa Conference League Preview: Shamrock Rovers -v- Djurgardens

Rory Gaffney celebrating his goal against Hibernians in Tallaght earlier this season. Djurgardens manager described the striker as a red-haired Carsten Jancker

Rory Gaffney celebrating his goal against Hibernians in Tallaght earlier this season. Djurgardens manager described the striker as a red-haired Carsten Jancker Credit: Eddie Lennon (ETPhotos)


The Hoops kick-off their Europa Conference League campaign against Djurgardens at Tallaght Stadium on Thursday night (kick-8pm).

It is 11 years since they last played group stage football and Rovers’ Head Coach Stephen Bradley spoke ahead of the game about the excitement around Tallaght for this European tie.

“It’s a great time to be a supporter of the club, a player or staff, it’s an exciting time,” said Bradley. “Group stage football is exactly what we wanted, we have it now so it’s time to embrace that and enjoy it.

Europe is always a tactical test. The players will be tested on the pitch, but they will enjoy that challenge, as will the staff. I’m sure the fans will have their own challenges as our fans are loud, and their fans are very similar, it has the makings of a special night.”

Rovers have won all four of their home European matches this season and are looking to make if five from five when the welcome the fourth ranked side from this Europa Conference League group that also includes Molde and Gent (who the Hoops play away next week).

“They are a very good team,” said Bradley about the Swedish visitors. “They are in contention to win their domestic league, and when you watch them you can see why. They have great ability in the team and they are very well coached. We are expecting a difficult game. We will respect them, but our aim is to win as many games as possible in the group. It will be difficult, but that is our goal.

Eriksson is obviously an excellent player, but they have a number of very good players, hence why they are doing so well in their league. They have been building this team for some time now with good players all over the pitch.”

Rovers come into the game on the back of a 1-0 defeat in Dalymount Park in the Dublin Derby. “I didn’t feel that we performed at any sort of level to go and win the game. The players have been excellent for a long time but I felt on Friday (against Bohs)that we were well off our levels.

It was certainly a poor quality, scrappy game, with no clear patterns of play. Neither side had periods of control, and that was disappointing, it makes it anybody’s game, with one goal deciding it. 

Bradley will be able to call on the services of Graham Burke and Simon Power who are back after injuries but Richie Towell is a doubt. Pico Lopes is back doing light training but is a few more weeks away from availability.


The Swedish side, who last won their domestic league title in 2019, are just a point off the top of the table in the Allsvenskan after 21 games. They are making their first group stage appearance since the 1996 Intertoto Cup.

Like Bradley, manager Kim Bergstrand (who coaches the side with Thomas Lagerlof) is excited about his team’s European campaign and has certain thoughts on Rovers style of play.

“It will be exciting going into the group stage and we will be thrown straight into the storm,” said Bergstrand about the game when speaking with on the bus from Shannon where his team flew to on Wednesday morning. 

“It's going to be an incredibly enthusiastic crowd in the stadium and we're taking on a team with a mostly classic British style of play, so it's going to be a tough challenge for us.

“I think they will go all out and attack constantly from the start and maybe throughout the game. They have a lot of energy in their games at home and have a strong record at home in the European matches they have played.”

His team will have over 700 travelling supporters in the stadium, with ticket still available for home fans on match day – the game is also live on Virgin and BT Sport. 

“As I understand it, we will have a lot of DIF supporters with us to support us. So it feels good that we have them behind us.

“They play 5-3-2 or 3-5-2, depending on how you look at it. They try to build plays but it can also end with a slightly longer ball on a heavy forward (Rory Gaffney) who could be described as a red-haired Carsten Jancker who is ruthless in the box. But as I said, a team that is recognised as strong at home, so it will be a tough challenge for us.”

Referee: Ivar Orri Kristjansson (Iceland)


Rovers skipper Ronan Finn will claim the all-time League of Ireland appearance record in Europe on Thursday. He is currently level on 54 appearances with Gary Rogers.

Graham Burke’s goal earlier in the European campaign has brought him to seven goals in European action. Only three League of Ireland players have scored more – Jason Byrne (10), Glenn Crowe (11) and David McMillan (14).

The two teams played in the UEFA Cup in 2002. Djurgardens won the first leg in Tolka Park 3-1 and the second leg in Stockholm 2-0.

UEFA will be handing out the following prize money based on the result in Tallaght on Thursday. A win earns €500,000 while a draw earns both teams €166,000.


1-0 home win

Shamrock Rovers

Injured: Pico Lopes 

Doubtful: Richie Towell

Suspended: None


Injured: n/a 

Suspended: None