Underdog story: Kierans, right, with St Pat's manager Liam Buckley. Sportsfile
FAI Cup 2012

Kierans looks to Ryder Cup miracle for inspiration

Darius Kierans knows that Dundalk will be the underdogs when they face St Pat’s in Sunday’s FAI Cup semi-final. That could be the advantage they need, he tells

“IT COULD BE the year of the underdog.”

Darius Kierans smiles, the kind of smile which leaves you unsure if the Dundalk manager really believes his young side can cause an upset when they host St Patrick’s Athletic in the FAI Cup semi-final on Sunday.

At the tail-end of a season in which Dundalk flitted dangerously close to going out of existence, won just three league games and face a relegation play-off, Kierans’ slight skepticism is understandable.

But then last Sunday he was reminded that anything is possible in sport. Europe’s Ryder Cup team pulled off the shock of all shocks — the Miracle of Medinah — and came from behind to beat the United States on a dramatic final day of golf in Chicago.

“Look at Europe last week in the Ryder Cup,” Kierans tells “Nobody gave them a chance on the Saturday.

There are a lot of stories like that in sport so we have to draw inspiration from stuff like that.

Any positives, however flimsy, are crucial for the Lilywhites. Even by the demoralising standards of their season, it hasn’t been a great week; a record 7-0 defeat against Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght was followed by a 4-0 loss to Derry in the Brandywell on Tuesday, a result which guaranteed that Dundalk will finish bottom of the table and face a play-off for their Premier Division survival.

Eleven goals conceded without reply makes for grim reading but Dundalk haven’t helped themselves, Kierans says, gifting their opponents goals with simple mistakes.

A lot of it is down to individual error. We went to Dalymount Park [against Bohemians] in the quarter-final of the cup and we said that if we can cut out the individual error, we’ll win the game. There was no individual errors and we won the game.

“Against Pat’s on Sunday we can’t give away goals like that or we’ll be punished. Pat’s are a fantastic team, they play in the right manner, they’ve some quality players right through their squad so we can’t give away soft goals like we have done in the last few games.”

There’s the memory of May too, when Dundalk went to Richmond Park and stole a surprise 2-1 win thanks to a late brace from Mark Griffin. Griffin misses Sunday’s semi through suspension, but the league win is another positive for Kierans and his young guns.

They know they’re the underdogs — they have been in practically every game this season — but that might yet be the key to their success.

“There’s no secret that we need to keep it tight early on. There’s no pressure on us, absolutely no pressure on us whatsoever.

“It’s been 51 years since Pat’s won the cup. Some great teams have come and gone and not won it, and Liam has assembled a great team this year. There’s no doubt about that, you can see the hunger.

“But if we can keep it tight early on, maybe they’ll get more nervous than we will because there’s more pressure on them to win it than there is on us.

If ever there was going to be a shock, this could be the one. Why not?

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