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Dublin: 7°C Wednesday 28 October 2020
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Dundalk can solidify their legacy as one of Ireland's greatest ever teams with a win today

The Lilywhites are bidding to beat Cork City in the FAI Cup final for the second consecutive season this afternoon.

Dundalk have enjoyed success domestically and in Europe this season.
Dundalk have enjoyed success domestically and in Europe this season.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

CORK CITY MUST be sick of the sight of Dundalk at this stage.

For the past three consecutive seasons, John Caulfield’s men have had to be content with the Premier Divison runners-up spot.

In 2014, Stephen Kenny’s side beat Cork 2-0 on the final day to take the title.

Last year, an extra-time victory saw them beat the Leesiders in the FAI Cup final.

Furthermore, this season, the Lilywhites once again prevailed when it mattered, as they effectively wrapped up the league with a 2-1 win over Cork in the dying stages of the season.

And given their sterling form both domestically and in Europe, Dundalk will go into today’s FAI Cup final as overwhelming favourites to claim silverware yet again.

The Lilywhites, who are bidding to win the FAI Cup for the 11th time, are very much on track to be remembered as one of the greatest League of Ireland teams of all time on account of their relentless run of success recently.

Moreover, their lucrative European exploits has put them in a considerably superior position to ever other Irish side, and so their domestic dominance is not expected to end anytime soon.

But Cork cannot be underestimated — in five meetings between the sides this season, the Rebels have won three.

And speaking following their latest loss in the league last month, Caulfield was adamant that the gap between the two teams is closing, even if his side aren’t quite on Dundalk’s level just yet.

Mark O’Sullivan and Garry Buckley are doubts for Cork, while John Dunleavy and Alan Smith are definitely out, and Dave Mulcahy is cup tied.

For Dundalk, Shane Grimes has been ruled out with a hamstring injury, while Robbie Benson, who missed the side’s Europa League defeat by Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday, is again doubtful.

Speaking ahead of the match, Stephen Kenny says the packed crowd at the Aviva and their fans’ vociferous support can compensate for players’ tiredness brought on by Dundalk’s hectic recent schedule of games.

“It has been a big week for us,” he said, speaking to the club’s official site.

With the Russian trip and now the Cup final. We are sitting second in the group in the Europa League and the league title already won, adding the FAI Cup would be exceptional.

“Motivation is high to go and win the double again. We have to get our energy from the crowd and the occasion. The support has been magnificent and they can inspire us to a famous victory once again. We are motivated to have that brilliant feeling of winning the cup again.”

John Caulfield John Caulfield acknowledges his side are underdogs today. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Cork boss John Caulfield, meanwhile, acknowledges that his side are underdogs going into the game, but he believes they can prevail regardless.

Speaking Cork’s official site, Caulfield said: “We know we are the underdogs, but we have a new team this year which has energy and pace and they are capable of giving a big performance. We know we will need a big performance to win on Sunday.”

There is a fantastic buzz around the city and county. I know the local leagues, both at schoolboy and senior level, have no fixtures on Sunday to allow people to get to the game and that is fantastic to see. There are clubs from all over the city and the county running buses and joining in the Rebel March on the Aviva Stadium.

“As a club, we have progressed a lot over the last couple of years and it is great to see the local soccer community rallying behind us ahead of the game. There is a real feeling that the whole city and county are behind us. I would urge all of our supporters to get into the ground early and create the kind of atmosphere they are capable of, to try and help us bring home the cup.”

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Paul Fennessy

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