Shelbourne flew to Slovenia on Tuesday before the UEFA Women’s Champions League qualifying match against ŽNK Pomurje Beltinci.
The match is actually a semi-final: if Shels beat the Slovenian champions on Thursday, they will face Iceland’s Valur or Armenia’s Hayasa on Sunday to advance to the second round.
If Noel King’s side make it past the second round, they will then enter the 16-team group.
The match will be played at the 4,500-capacity Fazanerija Stadium in north-eastern Slovenia, where St Patrick’s Athletic recently played NS Mura in the Europa Conference League qualifiers.
Champions League football is the reward for Shels’ remarkable Women’s National League win last November. A 3-2 win over Wexford Youths, along with Peamount United’s shock 5-2 defeat of Galway, gave King’s charges the title.
Last month, the Dublin club announced the signing of US World Cup winner Heather O’Reilly, who admitted the prospect of Champions League football was one of the main reasons behind her surprise decision to come out of retirement and head to Ireland.
The 37-year-old has played for several different teams in the National Women’s Soccer League in the US and had a season-long spell with Arsenal in the WSL.
“When I was thinking about which clubs would be interesting to me and which clubs I could make an immediate impact on, I thought of Shelbourne,” she said after signing.
“They are the All-Ireland champions, they had a very successful season last year to win the league, but they are still very much a club and a league that needs a lot of growth.
“I feel that I could bring some eyes to this league, bring some eyes to this team and improve the game a bit while living this dream of mine to play in the Champions League.
“A lot of people will look at this and raise their eyebrows and think it’s an interesting career move, but I’m following my dream. I had this uncharted field and I wish I could have done it, and for good reasons.. I’m excited over it, the club is excited about it and I think it’s one of those situations where it’s all about winning.”
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