Rumori di Spogliatoio

Crusaders FC, the opponents of FC Levadia (UCL, 1Q)

Angelo PalmeriComment
Keith O'Dwyer with the Setanta Cup won by Sligo. The Setanta Cup is played between clubs of Northern Ireland and the The Republic of Ireland.

Keith O'Dwyer with the Setanta Cup won by Sligo. The Setanta Cup is played between clubs of Northern Ireland and the The Republic of Ireland.

'Rumori' tries to bring coverage of as many continental leagues as possible.
For the SSE Airtricity League, the Republic of Ireland top flight, we are counting on the insider look of Keith O'Dwyer

Keith has worked for several years at the Irish club Sligo Rovers as he was the Club Promotion Officer and Secretary. He is now a volunteer within the club and the match commentator for local radio, Ocean FM.

His blog on Rumori, 'Radio Ireland' brings stories and an inside look of the Irish football realm. Furthermore, Keith gives us information about the developments of Sander Puri, the only Estonian player in the Republic of Ireland at Sligo Rovers.

Keith has accepted to describe Crusaders FC for Rumori ahead of their clash in the Champions League first qualifiers against Levadia on the 30th of June.

The game will be followed live in Belfast by our Chris Johns who will provide a live text commentary. The link to the live text will be available in our 'European Luggage' section on the day of the game.


After three trips to the Republic of Ireland reigning Estonian champions Levadia will make their first trip to Northern Ireland after they were drawn against Danske Bank Premiership champions Crusaders in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.

Crusaders are recent opponents of Sligo Rovers.
We played them twice in the Setanta Sports Cup in the semi-finals in 2012 and the quarter-finals in 2014. In 2012 they beat us 3-2 over two legs to get to the final where they won the competition outright beating Derry City on penalties. Over the two games though I wouldn’t have felt they were the better side.
In the away leg in Seaview which is a lovely compact stadium nestled in between the streets of Belfast.

They have a great playing surface having upgraded to a 4G playing surface and they use every inch of that to their advantage catching Rovers cold. In the second led it was one way traffic but an extra time penalty saw Crusaders through.

A view of the Seaview stadium from one of the supporters' ends. It the home of Crusaders FC and the venue for the game on the 30th of June against FC Levadia (BBC Sport)

A view of the Seaview stadium from one of the supporters' ends. It the home of Crusaders FC and the venue for the game on the 30th of June against FC Levadia (BBC Sport)

The last meeting of the two sides was completely one sided as Rovers ruthlessly took the Hatchetman apart in both legs winning 4-1 in Seaview and 5-0 in the Showgrounds as the Bit O’Red went on to win the competition for the first time.
To be fair to Crusaders they didn’t have their strongest side out in either leg as they reflected the disinterest being shown to the competition by Northern sides at the time.

They are a very solid side who are capable of playing some lovely attacking football and have built their side around a stable core of players including the likes of Colin Coates, Chris Morrow and Jordan Owens.

oates in particular impressed the Rovers supporters who were keen to see him signed up given his displays at centre half. A natural leader, he is the bedrock of their defence. 

Colin Coates (29) has represented Northern Ireland 6 times, according to Transfermarkt.de (Irish FA)

Colin Coates (29) has represented Northern Ireland 6 times, according to Transfermarkt.de (Irish FA)

Their league success has been coming as they have patiently built up their team and club including improving the ground to take them to where they are now.

Manager Stephen Baxter has been there since 2005 and in his time has won the league, the IFA Cup, the League Cup and the Setanta Sports Cup.

Their European results had been mixed but last year saw them progress through a round for the first time when they beat Ekranas from Lithuania 5-2 on aggregate before going out against Swedish side Brommapojkarna.

So it will be tough task for Levadia and from what I have seen of Crusaders, they will need to keep make sure that they don’t score first, they will have to cut off the supply to the wingers and also try and get in behind Coates.

Crusaders like many sides are more comfortable playing in their own surroundings so any sort of positive result and crucially an away goal in Seaview would give Levadia a great chance of progressing. 

Keith O'Dwyer