Kenny bemoans lack of cross-border competition

Gavin McLaughlin

Reporter:

Gavin McLaughlin

Kenny bemoans lack of cross-border competition
Dundalk face Coleraine for only the second time in the club’s history when they meet the Bannsiders in the Setanta Cup at Oriel Park this Monday night.

Dundalk face Coleraine for only the second time in the club’s history when they meet the Bannsiders in the Setanta Cup at Oriel Park this Monday night.

The only previous encounter between the sides came on April 27, 1970 when Coleraine won 2-0 at The Showgrounds en route to retaining the Blaxnit Cup, a cross-border competition played between 1967 and 1974.

Current Lilywhites manager Stephen Kenny is looking forward to Monday’s tie and he said that it was unfortunate that clubs from both sides of the border don’t get to play each other on a more regular basis.

“It’s amazing to think that Coleraine is only two hours away and the two sides have only ever met once in a competitive game. It’s a terrible indictment of football on the island. We should all be playing each other more regularly”, he said.

Dundalk assistant manager Gerry Spain watched Coleraine’s 2-2 draw with Ballymena United on Saturday and Kenny himself is familiar with a number of their players.

“Eugene Ferry, the goalkeeper, was at Derry for a couple of years under me as back up to Ger Doherty. Ruairi Harkin is another young player who played for me a lot and then obviously there is Davy McDaid. They finished fourth last year and had a poor start to this season but they’ve picked it up recently.”

Dundalk’s only previous involvement in the Setanta Cup was in 2011 when they overcame Linfield, Glentoran and Cliftonville on the way to being beaten in the final by Shamrock Rovers.

Supporters remember those nights fondly but the campaign came at a cost with injuries and fixture congestion playing a major part in disrupting Dundalk’s season. After a bright start in the league, Ian Foster’s side finished 7th.

Kenny conceded that success in the Setanta Cup would inevitably lead to three games in the space of seven days on certain weeks but it is something that he is looking forward to.

“The teams that reached the final last year, Drogheda United and Shamrock Rovers, finished eighth and fifth respectively and that was because the Setanta Cup had an impact on their season. That was the same with Dundalk in 2011. Their league form completely petered out because of the multitude of games”, he said.

“We’re not concerned about that. We feel we have the infrastructure and the staff who can facilitate recovery sessions. We can handle three games a week and we have the players who can come in and out and do well. We want to go and have a crack at this trophy.”