Stephen Kenny and Pat Fenlon will renew old rivalries when Dundalk face Shamrock Rovers in the FAI Cup quarter-final at Tallaght Stadium this Friday.
The televised clash is the first of three games in the space of 21 days between the sides - four if it goes to a replay - and Kenny admitted if his team are to go on and lift the cup, they will have to do it the hard way.
“We got Sligo Rovers in the first round and now Shamrock Rovers in the quarter-final so if we want to win the cup, we will have to do it by beating some of the best sides in the country.”
Both managers have plenty of cup pedigree. Kenny won the trophy with Derry City in 2006 when the Candystripes beat St Patrick’s Athletic 4-3 in front of 16,000 people in the last ever football game to be played at the old Lansdowne Road.
“That final was recently voted as the best FAI Cup final ever,” said Kenny. “It was a fantastic game. We were behind three times and came back to win 4-3. Paddy McCourt and Mark Farren were sublime for us that day,” he added.
Derry City also won the League Cup that season, beating Fenlon’s Shelbourne side at the Brandywell.
“I’ve never seen a bigger crowd at The Brandywell than that day,” recalled Kenny.
“We played most of the game with nine men because David Forde and Killian Brennan were sent-off. I had played Pat Jennings in all of the games up to the final and then I started David in the final and he got sent-off! Pat came on and saved three penalties in the shoot-out.”
Fenlon, who won the trophy in his playing days with Bohemians, also won the cup as a manager, exacting revenge on Kenny when Bohs beat Derry City in a penalty shoot-out at the RDS in 2008.
Current Dundalk captain Stephen O’Donnell and vice captain Mark Rossiter were part of the Bohs side that clinched the double with the win while Ruaidhri Higgins was introduced as an extra-time sub for Derry City on the day.
“We actually played better in 2008 and lost than we did when we won in 2006,” said Kenny, “but that’s cup football, you never know what can happen on the day.”
Although they are still in the hunt for a European place, Rovers’ season hinges on the outcome of Friday night’s FAI Cup tie and the subsequent EA Sports Cup final at Oriel Park eight days later.
When that was put to him, Kenny responded in his usual bullish manner.
“To be honest, I don’t really care about that. From our point of view, we aren’t concerned about what other clubs or teams do.
“We will identify the strengths and weaknesses of our opponents but we are very single minded. We are only worried about what we do.”