Dundalk exit Champions League with 3-0 defeat to Slovenians
NK Celja 3-0 Dundalk
Dundalk's bid for Champions League qualification fell at the first hurdle in Hungary as three counter attacks sent them packing for the Europa League.
Despite dominating most of the game and going close on one or two - or three or four or five occasions - Vinny Perth's men failed to find the net as they have done now in their last five European away days.
And, instead, it was Celja who were striking on three occasions as a first half goal from Luka Kerin and two goals in the 89th and 95th minute from Dario Vizinger and Filip Dangubic gave the Slovenian champions an emphatic win and sends them into the second qualifying round owing to the one-legged nature of these 2020 clashes.
It always felt like it was going to go the other way though and, hell, on another night, it might well have.
Patrick McEleney's right foot started the game like a tractor beam, detecting and hitting targets with automatic ease as the Oriel Park men sprayed the ball around their counterparts for fun.
Then, as you were. Dundalk pressure, Dundalk dominance. Duffy taking over from McEleney.
And it was Michael Duffy who set up Flores for an effort that deflected over. It was Duffy who pulled just wide when he dropped the shoulder and found himself with a big chance. And it was Michael Duffy who fed Leahy who snatched at it and pulled wide of the same post.
In the final 10 minutes, with Celja clinging to their 1-0 lead with their finger nails at that stage, Pat Hoban got his head to a free kick first and saw it clatter flush off the post.
Outside of that, Dundalk were kept at bay. They were slowed, they were muscled, they were frustrated.
Nonetheless, they had the chances, but they never took them. Nk Celja did. All three of them.
And, just like that, it's the end of the road for the Irish kingpins. Europa League qualification awaits them.