Cork City ready for ‘incredibly exciting’ UEFA Youth League tie
Cork City U19 coach Stephen Bermingham is expecting 'an excellent second leg' as his team prepares to face HJK Helsinki in the UEFA Youth League.
The Rebel Army are currently preparing to face the Finnish team tomorrow night at Turner's Cross, the first time an Irish side has played in Europe's elite competition.
In the first leg, Cork City produced an excellent display to claim a 0-0 draw and Bermingham believes the players deserve the European opportunity.
Bermingham said: "It's going to be a great occasion for the club and the players. The players more than anything deserve this as they've worked so hard to get to this point.
"They've done so well in the league over the last two years and haven't really stopped over the last year so it has been really difficult for them. They've come through it and it is a great reward.
"To be able to play in Europe at home is incredibly exciting and the city have really got behind the team. When we were told we were competing in the UEFA Youth League, it took a while for it to sink in for the players."
If Cork City were able to make it through the second leg, they could face Italian giants AS Roma in the next round of the UEFA Youth League, as they currently hold a 3-0 lead over APOEL Nicosia from the first leg.
With players such as Chiedozie Ogbene in the first-team squad over recent weeks, Bermingham believes the European experience will benefit the players in the future.
He added: "We came through the first leg really well. I think we surprised them a little bit and were able to fashion a number of chances but we need to make sure we up our game tomorrow night.
"Our preparations has been excellent. The first leg was going into the unknown but now we've played them, we know what to expect and it should make for an excellent second leg.
"We've had a number of players involved in the first-team and that is always the aim of what we do here. Players like Chiedozie Ogbene, who scored against Galway, and Conor McCarthy have been in and around it which is great.
"With the first-team in Europe again next season, this European experience is excellent for the squad to know how to go away in Europe and perform.
"The lads have been fully focused on this fixture since it was announced. To play in front of our own supporters in Europe, we're really looking forward to it."