'It's of huge importance to football in Ireland and something you want to do justice to' - Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Kenny on European competition

Hoops boss believes that it is an 'honour' to play in Europe and admits that he is under pressure to reignite the champions' inconsistent season
Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Kenny has said that it is 'a great honour' to be involved in European competition but admits that he is under pressure to get a result.

The Tallaght club take on Lithuanian outfit FK Ekranas in the second qualifying round of the Champions League on Tuesday July 17.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Kenny said that the club was representing Ireland and conceded that his side's Champions League opponents would be difficult to overcome.

"It's a great honour," said Kenny. "You are representing your country. It's of huge importance to football in Ireland and something you want to do justice to."

He continued: "Ekranas will be confident coming here. They are the seeded team, but we'll believe in ourselves too and it's our ambition to get through this round because that guarantees you six games, which is a big incentive.

"They beat Valletta last year, as you would expect, and then BATE Borisov knocked them out. They have a lot of Lithuanian internationals and a Georgian international. They are a very experienced team."

One Lithuanian international that Kenny is familiar with from his time managing in Scotland is former Hearts and Rangers player Andrius Velička.

"[Andrius Velička] was at Hearts and scored a lot of goals in the SPL," added the Hoops boss. "Rangers bought him for £1 million.

"He got a hat-trick in Ekranas' last game, but I think he could be on the move this weekend. There's talk of a transfer to another Lithuanian club."

The former Derry City boss has come under a lot of pressure in recent weeks following results which see the champions slip further away from league-leaders Sligo Rovers and Kenny believes that the Champions League games can become a catalyst for the club.

"I do understand that we have to be winning and that expectations are high," he said. "I think we need to go on a run of winning matches and that the Champions League game on Tuesday will be part of that."

He added: "We have had a lot of good performances recently, but the Bohemians game [a 4-0 loss] stands out as a bad day at the office.

"We were the better team against St Patrick's Athletic last Sunday, we beat Shelbourne and drew with Cork in a game we dominated.

"We should have more points, there's no doubt about that, and we have made mistakes, but we can have a strong second half of the season," concluded Kenny.

Shamrock Rovers host FK Ekranas at Tallaght Stadium in the Champions League second qualifying round first leg on Tuesday July 17. Kick off 20.00 BST.