Dundalk-born SHANE GRIMES takes his place on the Drogheda United team to play Sligo Rovers in next Sunday’s FAI Cup at the Aviva Stadium. Although Rovers are warm favourites, left-back Shane believes United can win, having already beaten the Westerners in this season’s Setanta Cup.
What has the build-up to the final been like?
It’s been great at training for some weeks now and although we had league games to play, the final is all that’s been on our minds. It is most of the squad’s first FAI Cup final, so you can well imagine the excitement in the dressing room. We actually look forward to training!
Is there much excitement around Drogheda?
Lots of it. The flags and bunting are out, and I know the club is trying very hard to promote the game. They are expecting a big response from townspeople on the day. Hopefully they’ll respond.
Are you happy with the choice of venue, instead, maybe, of the more compact Tolka or Tallaght pitches?
We have played in two finals this year in Tallaght, and there was a good atmosphere there. But the Aviva is a terrific stadium, and it will be great to be playing there. A crowd of about 30,000 would create a great atmosphere.
How many training sessions per week since semi-final?
Training, as you can imagine, has been stepped up, with three and sometimes four sessions per week. We’ve been working more on tactics than anything else.
What was it like for you playing against Dundalk in the semi-final?
Derby games are always great to be involved in. Although Dundalk is my former team, there was no question about me giving less than my best. You have to be professional in situations like that. It was a controversial match with the sendings-off, but it was still good to win.
Have you been a regular this season?
I have only missed a few games, and that was through suspension.
Any other former Dundalk players on the panel?
Peter Hynes, Declan O’Brien, David Cassidy and Mick Daly.
What are manager, Mick Cooke’s strengths?
He has a great knowledge of the game, and one thing about him, he does his best for the players. In return he gets out of players something that others might not.
How long were you on Dundalk’s books?
Three seasons. I liked it at Oriel, playing in front of the home crowd. It wasn’t the best of times for the club. We were in the First Division, and there was always the question of the club being able to survive.
Who were managers during your time there?
Jim Gannon and John Gill. We won the First Division title with John Gill in charge, but then he left. Sean Connor came in, and there was a big cull. Nearly all of us were let go, which was very disappointing.
When did your soccer career begin?
At a very early age. I played with Muirhevnamor and then St Dominic’s in the schoolboys’ league. I was never involved at Summer League level.
Where after that?
Home Farm. I was there for two years, and played under Gerry Garvan and Declan Rock.
Did any of your Home Farm colleagues graduate to English League football?
Chris McCann is presently playing with Wigan and Owen Garvan is with Crystal Palace.
Who brought you to Dundalk?
I came back and played with Dundalk under Tommy Connolly, who I’d have to say is one of the best footballing people around.
Your all-time great?
Alessandro Nesta. I just loved the way he defended.
Your cross-Channel team?
Arsenal, and I think this is going to be their year. Ozil could prove himself to be Arsene Wegner’s best-ever signing.
Have you ever been over to see them play?
A couple times in the last few years.
Was the media fair to Trapattoni?
Some of the criticism was warranted, but not all of it. His record wasn’t the worst.
Who would like to see getting the Ireland job?
A League of Ireland manager. I’d just love to see one of them getting the chance to work with players of international standard.
Any interest in other eports?
Greyhound racing and coursing. I have half-shares in a couple of dogs with my friend, Peter McArdle. One of them, Windgap Jewel, won a couple of races at Dundalk Stadium recently. It’s good fun.
I’m a relatively new recruit. I had an interest in one running at Gorey last Saturday, but couldn’t go because we were training.
I suppose you’re dreaming of one day owning a Derby winner?
That would be very nice, but in the meantime if our dogs win a few races I’ll be happy.
Ever play Gaelic football?
Yes, with Na Piarsaigh, but my preference was always for soccer.
There’s a history of GAA involvement in your family?
My late Granda, Owenie Grimes, was a great man for the Dundalk Gaels. He followed them everywhere and was a lifetime member.
Are you a TV Fan?
I’m big into the CSI, and I also like watching sport.
Can Drogheda win on Sunday?
Of course. We have already beaten Sligo this season in the Setanta Cup. We won one of the legs and drew the other. There’s no reason we can’t do it again. We’re certainly up for it.
If you win, what will you be singing at the party?
If I’m going to sing it will have to be early in the night, because when it gets late, I don’t think I’d able to remember the words.
Would any of your team-mates be among the four you’d invite to a private party?
I’m afraid not. Places would be reserved for my girlfriend, Gavin and Ryan Brennan, and Killian.
Beast piece of advice you ever received?
Always give your all at not matter what you’re doing – you never know what’s around the corner.