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Ryan Byrne/INPHO Massey has been at Dundalk since 2013.
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'Getting suited and booted on cup final morning, it's a real highlight in your career'
Defender Dane Massey looks ahead to Sunday’s FAI Cup final, where Dundalk will look to seal the double.

DANE MASSEY HAS won it all with Dundalk over the last five years since joining from Bray Wanderers at the end of 2012, but that hunger for success has not diminished in any way.

Being involved in title races, competing in European competition and making it to cup finals in front of tens of thousands of supporters is an annual occurrence. But despite the regularity of success in his career, the defender maintains that it always has to be earned.

Teams like Sunday’s FAI Cup final opponents Cork City are always lying in wait, looking to pounce on any sense of weakness or shortcoming from title rivals, he says. Last season was a case-in-point, with John Caulfield’s side snatching both the Premier Division and domestic cup in a year where the Lilywhites went completely empty-handed.

This weekend’s FAI Cup final will be Massey’s fourth, but he is welcoming it just like any other.

Dane Massey celebrates winning Ciaran Culligan / INPHO Massey has won four Premier Division titles since joining Dundalk. Ciaran Culligan / INPHO / INPHO

“Everyone’s looking forward to it,” the Dubliner says. “The cup final is a special highlight in the football calendar year in Ireland. There are a lot of players in the squad who haven’t played at the Aviva before so everyone’s just excited to get out there and get going.”

Although Dundalk have secured four SSE Airtricity League titles in five seasons, there has been significant turnover in Stephen Kenny’s squad in that time. Players like Patrick Hoban, Ronan Murray, Dean Jarvis and Stephen Folan are all new to this experience.

You can only say so much to the new lads,” says Massey. “We do just be telling them about things like how the drive up to the stadium is fantastic, you see the crowds all lined up bellowing out of the pubs, all come to cheer you on.

“It’s fantastic and it just makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, really. I’m sure the young lads will take it all in and want to get there again next year and the one after too, for the rest of their careers.”

Dane Massey Bryan Keane / INPHO Massey was speaking at Oriel Park on Tuesday ahead of the FAI Cup final. Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

Players that play in such big cup finals admit that the game itself is just one part of a whole day full of events, landmarks and milestones which make the occasion very special, like the suits.

“Myself, Robbie Benson and Sean Gannon and Sean Hoare were just down there getting our suits today,” Massey smiles. “The town is black and white, there’s bunting everywhere and all the locals are coming out wishing you the best of luck.

“It’s fantastic, you’re getting suited and booted, it’s all a real highlight in your career. Waking up on cup final morning and you see your suit hanging there… it’s a great thrill.”

We’ve a chance at doing the double. I’ve done the double once and it’s not often you get a chance to achieve that. Someone told me that the last time Dundalk won the double twice was under a different manager [Martin Lawlor] going back years.

“So it has never been done twice under the same manager with the same group of players. With all that taken into account, it would be fantastic — another record we could break.”

Massey expects another tough battle against Cork City on Sunday. It is the fourth consecutive year that the pair will meet at the Aviva Stadium, with the Leesiders looking to make it three FAI Cup titles in a row for the first time in the club’s history.

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Dane Massey and Jimmy Keohane Ryan Byrne / INPHO The defender won the double with Dundalk in 2015. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“When you play Cork you’re in for a physical game. They are a direct team, but it’s much of a muchness really. It’s what you can do with the ball when you have it.

We have special players here, the likes of Jamie McGrath and Michael Duffy and Patrick McEleney all firing and all flying this year. So look, it’s up to us really to take the game to them.

“We’ve lost the last two cup at the death. Last year we lost on penalties and the year previous Sean Maguire scored in the last couple of seconds. We’ve both different squad this year, we’ve a younger and more determined team and we’re definitely hopeful that we can edge it. 

“We’re really in form at the moment and have just come off the back of winning the league. This squad knows how to win games and that’s important.”

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