HE may not be the biggest fan of the competition, but former Dundalk captain and manager Dermot Keely would be delighted to see his old club win the Setanta Cup.
The Lilywhites meet Cliftonville in the semi-final second leg at Oriel Park on Monday night and with Ian Foster’s side holding a 3-1 advantage, Keely, writing in his column in last Friday’s Irish Sun, is banking on Dundalk to finish the job.
“Dundalk are going strong in the Setanta Cup and Id love to see them do it because I know how much the competition means to them.
“I’m no supporter of the cup and seeing quite a few sides send out weakened teams shows that it’s not a priority for others but it’s a big deal for Dundalk and they have done very well – winning in Belfast on their three visits – and now look a good bet to make the final.
“With the other semi-final between Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers, I’m sure it will be a great decider – a better final than I reckon the Setanta Cup deserves.”
While Dundalk have been flying high in the Setanta Cup, they have been stuttering on the domestic front. Last Friday night’s 2-0 defeat to Derry City at the Brandywell has left Foster’s side with just seven points from their first six league games.
Injuries have hit Dundalk hard in recent weeks with Eoghan Osborne, Stephen Maher and Greg Bolger all ruled out for several months. Fixture congestion has also been cited as a reason for their lacklustre league performances but Keely (pictured left) feels it is the lack of depth in Foster’s squad that could cost them a place in the top four come the end of the season.
“I know the Setanta Cup has kept Dundalk very busy but I think it will be injuries, rather than fatigue, that will hurt them as the season goes on. They’ve got three players out for the long term now and they don’t have that big of a squad to begin with, so that could hurt them.
“As for the number of games being played, I wouldn’t be too worried. I’m old school on this issue and a as a player, I preferred playing Monday, training Tuesday and Thursday and a game on the weekend rather than training most of the week.”