20 Jun 2023

Northern Ireland's three UEFA Europa Conference League entrants today found out their opponents in the First Qualifying Round of the 2023/24 edition of the competition.

Sports Direct Premiership runners-up Linfield, third placed Glentoran and Irish Cup winners Crusaders will all take part with the ties to be played in mid-July.

Crusaders were first out of the hat, and were paired with Finnish outfit FC Haka Valkeakoski.

Currently 10th in the Veikkausliiga, Haka finished fourth last season but qualified via a play-off system. Stephen Baxter's side will travel to Scandinavia for the first leg before hosting Haka in the return a week later.

Linfield will be at home in the first leg of their tie with Albanian side KF Vllaznia Shkodër.

Vllaznia finished fourth in the Kategoria Superiore last season, and will make their third successive appearance on the European stage. Last season they exited the Conference League in the Second Qualifying Round, losing 4-1 on aggregate to Universitatea Craiova.

Glentoran were the last side drawn, and will travel to Malta to face Gzira United in the first leg.

Finishing third in the Premier League last season, Gzira have qualified for Europe in five out of the past six seasons and reached the Conference League Third Qualifying Round a year ago. They accounted for Serbia's Radnički Niš in an earlier round and held Wolfsberger AC to a scoreless draw in Austria before losing by four goals in the home leg.

All first leg ties are provisionally scheduled for July 13th with the return games pencilled in for the 20th but fans of all clubs are strongly advised to await confirmation from UEFA and their club before making travel arrangements.