SETANTA CUP PREVIEW: Dundalk desperate to end trophy drought in Tallaght

Gavin McLaughlin

Reporter:

Gavin McLaughlin

SETANTA CUP PREVIEW: Dundalk desperate to end trophy drought in Tallaght
Forget the Giro D’Italia, the big sporting event of the weekend is this Saturday’s Setanta Sports Cup final between Dundalk and Sligo Rovers in Tallaght.

Forget the Giro D’Italia, the big sporting event of the weekend is this Saturday’s Setanta Sports Cup final between Dundalk and Sligo Rovers in Tallaght.

Both teams go into the game bidding to add the Setanta Cup to their list of honours for the first time but, for Dundalk, starved of a major trophy since the FAI Cup success of 2002, this could be the one that kickstarts a new period of domestic success.

History shows that the old adage of success breeding further success is on the mark. A quick look at Dundalk’s opponents on Saturday proves that.

Since winning the League Cup in 2010, the Bit o’Red have gone on to rack up trophies: three FAI Cups and a league title making it the most productive period in the club’s history. Richie Towell called it “the domino effect.” It is what Dundalk crave.

The tale of the tape suggests that Kenny’s side have all the tools required to win the final. They have won the past three meetings between the sides and currently sit eight points ahead of Ian Baraclough’s men in the league table.

The only stats that dictate otherwise is Dundalk’s lack of cup final experience with Peter Cherrie and Andy Boyle the only two of the expected starting XI to have previously played in a showpiece final.

It is not in Kenny’s make up to concede anything. As always, he looks for the positives in everything.

“For a lot of the players, it will be their first final and for those who started against Cork City on Friday night, apart from the First Division, none of them have ever won a trophy. It’s an unusual situation.

“Sligo have won a league title, have been in four of the last five FAI Cup finals and they also won the League Cup a couple of years ago aswell. That’s the reality.

“However the other reality is that we have a group of players who have great belief in themselves, who have no fear, can express themselves and believe in what they are doing.

“We won’t put any undue pressure on the players. Once they go out and express themselves in the way they have been doing all season they will be okay. Sligo Rovers are a formidable side but we have lots of confidence in ourselves.”

It is testament to the resilience of Kenny’s side that they are at this stage of the competition.

Few would have predicted Dundalk’s participation in the final as the quarter-final second-leg tie with Coleraine at The Showgrounds on March 10 ticked towards the 92nd minute.

Facing down the barrell of a 3-3 aggregate defeat on away goals, Dundalk launched one more attack and Stephen O’Donnell’s low drive secured their passage to the last four.

The rest, as they say, is history. Now Kenny and his players have the chance to make some more on Saturday.