'Lonely' Sheridan leading Irish charge into Champions League group stage

The Cavan native has notched three goals in four European games and is now the only Irish representative left in the competition
Cillian Sheridan says that he feels "lonely" after APOEL booked their place in the final stage of the Uefa Champions League.

And the reason for Sheridan's sense of solitude is that fact that he is the only Irish footballer remaining in the competition.

Cypriot outfit APOEL progressed thanks to a 5-1 aggregate win over Danish side Aalborg in the playoff and Sheridan was among the scorers in Tuesday's decisive 4-0 second-leg victory in Nicosia.

That strike - a sumptuous volley that went in off the post - was the Cavan native's third goal in four Champions League matches this campaign and has rightfully earned the striker plaudits.

"I certainly wasn't expecting us to win 4-0 against such a good side," Sheridan told Uefa.com after the game. "We were confident of getting the win but this was a thoroughly great performance.

"It does make me feel lonely that I am the only Irishman in the Champions League but it is also a good thing."

The 25-year-old scored his first goal of the current campaign in the first leg of the Third Qualifying round against HJK, snatching his side's second away goal in Helsinki and a crucial draw in the process.

Sheridan then opened the scoring in the second leg, sending APOEL on their way to the playoff as a Thomas Sebastien De Vicenti penalty sealed progression.

The Republic of Ireland international also expressed disappointment that his former club Celtic failed to progress to the group stage following a 1-0 defeat at home to Maribor, which forced the Scottish giants out of the competition for a second time, on a 2-1 aggregate scoreline.

However, the striker reflected that, in beating Aalborg, he had exorcised past disappointment, having suffered defeat against the Danish outfit in his last game for the Bhoys.

"It was a shame [former club] Celtic did not go through," added Sheridan.

"My final game for Celtic was a defeat by Aalborg in Europe, so it was a case of revenge tonight for me."