Dundalk's inclusion in Europa League due to hard work and not a 'miracle', says Stephen Kenny

The Premier Division champions face AZ Alkmaar on Thurday night in their maiden Europa League game

Stephen Kenny

Image: Brian Lawless / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Stephen Kenny dismissed the idea that Dundalk's inclusion in the Europa League was down to a 'miracle' and pointed out the progress the club have made of the last three years.

Speaking today ahead of their group stage opener against Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, Kenny acknowledged the work each of the players have put in to reach this point.

"We've been preparing to qualify for the Europa League of the last couple of seasons," he told reporters. "This isn't an overnight success, it didn't happen this season after a one-off result.

"I think we've consistently got better over the last three seasons. This is the third season and the culmination of a lot of hard work by the players. The players have really improved and the team has gotten better.

"We had a close encounter in our ambitions to get to the Champions League. We pushed Legia Warsaw right to the last minute really. 

"We come to AZ Alkmaar and obviously they've won the national league here in Holland recently and have had great success. It's a fine stadium and we're looking forward to the game. 

"I don't know about the word 'miracle'. I don't now about that, whether that's appropriate. We've got good players. You can do nothing without good players. We've shown that our players are technically very good and have a very good attitude.  

"They're improving, we've a young team that is improving. We've improved over the last couple of seasons, but we still have a lot to do to match the top teams in Europe. 

"We're looking forward to the Europa League campaign, there's six games. Obviously it's the first time in our history that we've been at this level so I think it's a big opportunity for everybody."