Patrick Hoban will be hoping to shoot down Sheriff for the second time in his Dundalk career on Thursday night.
The striker scored his first goal for the Lilywhites on his debut away to Dublin-based Sheriff YC in the Leinster Senior Cup way back in February 2013.
It’s a sign of how far the club has come in that period that seven-and-a-half years on it is Moldovan champions Sheriff Tiraspol that he and his team-mates are now preparing for.
Bar the name, there is no comparison between the two Sheriffs but Hoban’s ambition now remains the same as back then: to score away from home and help his side into the next round of a Cup competition.
“That was a long time ago now,” he said reflecting back on the game at the Clontarf Road Complex that was decided in extra-time.
“I’d love to score against the other Sheriff on Thursday obviously but getting through is the main thing to do.
“Since I’ve came back to the club the goal has always been to get to the group stages and we have a chance now but we have to do the business on Thursday.”
While the two matches are a world apart, Hoban said it’s a sign of how far Dundalk have come over the years that they’re now preparing to visit another new country in Moldova this week.
“You’d never have imagined that we’d be here in 2013 but obviously what Stephen built was superb and it has been continued on.
“When I came here we weren’t thinking about Europe but now it’s a huge focus. You get to see different countries. You might only get two or three days but it’s still great to see them and play in different places. It is brilliant but we’re there on business, not on a holiday.
“We have to go there in the right frame of mind and try to win a game of football,” he said.
Hoban has yet to start under new interim head coach Filippo Giovagnoli after pulling out of his first game in charge away to Cobh Ramblers at the end of last month with a groin problem but he insists that is fully behind him now after coming off the bench in Andorra last week.
“I’m feeling good so hopefully I’m over that injury now.
“It was very hard because I’m not used to missing games here so that was quite hard to take. It’s just one of those frustrating injuries where there’s a bad inflammation in the groin so I needed to wait to see would it heal by itself but I feel grand now so that’s the main thing.
“I’m looking forward to playing for Filippo. He has brought a new approach to it and people from the outside can probably see that for themselves.
“There’s a lot more intensity to our game and you can say we’re a lot more solid. We’ve had three good results in the last three games but we’ve still got a lot of improvements to do.
“We should be putting teams like Inter Club away. Last Thursday we had a host of chances to do that and we didn’t and that kind of made the game difficult for us. To get through was the main thing but we as players know we still have a lot of improving to do and hopefully we can do that under Filippo,” he said.
Dundalk will be at home to either KÍ or Dinamo Tiblisi in the Europa League play-offs should they win on Thursday and Hoban, who missed the last Europa League group stage campaign after departing for England, knows it is a big opportunity to possibly repeat the 2016 run.
“It was definitely an ambition of mine coming back here to make the group stages again.
“It is possible to do that now but we have to take it a game at a time and if we get through the next one it’s still not going to be easy to get there because the other teams that are there aren’t there for no reason either. It’s never easy but we’ll see how it goes on Thursday because we’re playing a very good side and we have to make sure we’re right on it.
“Sheriff are a very, very good side. If you look through their team they have a lot of different internationals playing there so it won’t be easy at all but with the right frame of mind we definitely have a chance of winning.
“At the end of the day it’s about the team trying to do it now for the fans who can’t come and watch the games. We want to do it for ourselves as well. We all have goals that we want to achieve and especially in Europe it’s the pinnacle of your career so these are opportunities that you need to take and we’ll be right up for it now on Thursday,” he said.