The Cork City U19 side face undoubtedly their toughest challenge this Wednesday evening at Turner’s Cross
Pierce Phillips acknowledges Cork City's Under-19 side face a monumental task as they take on AS Roma this Wednesday night in the UEFA Youth League.
The Leesiders come off the back of a historic 1-0 win over HJK of Finland in the first round of the Domestic Path of the competition. Last season’s U19 national league champions now face the Italian champions in the Round of 16 stage.
"Ever since the first leg [in Finland], there’s been a good buzz in the team," the forward told the club's official website.
"We didn’t find out until a few weeks before the draw. It was great to hear as it’s something you’d always want to play in.
"From the very start, this group has always been about improving one another. Every single player involved is quality. Not just the starting 11, but the whole squad. We’re all very close as a team too, and that helps."
The victory has given the League of Ireland side the platform to flourish in Europe at underage level and the club have also benefited from the increased numbers into to watch this unprecedented journey.
"It was the work rate that stood out most to me. I thought we played very well in the first half. It was the same in Helsinki – we were on top in the first half.
"They only thing that got us were those last 15 minutes when they were on top but, other than that, we played well and played some good football.
"We didn’t know much about them beforehand. They play very differently from the clubs in Ireland that we have faced, they tried to play the ball a lot more. HJK are also professional so fitness was a big thing. We’ve been working on that so it should be better next time."
Roma were convincing winners over APOEL of Cyprus in their first round tie, beating their opponents 6-1 in Rome for a 9-1 score line on aggregate.
"We’re practically training full time around school and work at the moment so we’re well prepared. It’s unbelievable to be facing a club that big. They were the U19s champions in Italy so we’re expecting tough opposition.
"We’ll stick to our game plan as ever. We might alter it a little, depending on who we play but, at the end of the day, we focus on our own game and we’ll go out and do our best to get a result."
Hoping for another good crowd this time around, Phillips said: “The crowd was a massive help, especially in the final 20 minutes when we were under pressure. You could really sense the crowd getting behind us and pushing is on. A big crowd would be fantastic to get again."