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'He's never played at the Aviva Stadium before, but you can't be sentimental about these things'

Patrick Hoban is facing a race to be fit for Sunday’s FAI Cup final against Cork City after suffering a swollen ankle.

Hoban limped off with 10 minutes to go against Bohemians last Friday at Dalymount Park.
Hoban limped off with 10 minutes to go against Bohemians last Friday at Dalymount Park.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

DUNDALK ARE HOPEFUL that star striker Patrick Hoban will be fit in time to play against Cork City in Sunday’s FAI Cup final, where the Lilywhites will attempt to seal a historic double. 

Hoban was instrumental in Dundalk wrestling back the SSE Airtricity League title this season — the club’s fourth in five years — amassing 29 league goals in 34 appearances since returning to Ireland after a three-year stay in England.

The striker, however, worryingly limped off in the 80th minute in his side’s final league game last Friday away to Bohemians. Picking up a knock at Dalymount Park, Hoban was replaced in the dying stages and was seen leaving the ground on crutches.

Jamie McGrath, Chris Shields and Patrick Hoban celebrate Hoban was nominated for PFAI Player of the Year after scoring 29 goals in 34 league appearances. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Early indicators suggested the player could be a doubt to take part in Sunday’s FAI Cup final. Manager Stephen Kenny explained that the player had suffered a swollen ankle having landed awkwardly competing for a corner, and that strapping up the player’s foot was a precautionary measure.

Speaking after last Friday’s 1-1 draw in Phibsborough, Kenny said that he was confident the player would be fit in time for this weekend’s final, where Dundalk and Cork face off for the fourth consecutive time at Landsdowne Road.

On Tuesday the manager said that Hoban had not trained since going off against Bohemians, but that the club was still to make a decision over whether or not he will feature.

He hasn’t trained the last few days,” Kenny said speaking to reporters at Oriel Park.

“He came down badly on his ankle and we’ll make a decision later in the week. Hopefully he’ll make it — we’re not playing games, obviously he’s hurt himself.

Stephen Kenny Stephen Kenny pictured alongside the FAI Cup at Oriel Park on Tuesday. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“We’re also waiting on Jamie McGrath and Robbie Benson. Robbie has been out for the last two weeks with a knee injury that he sustained in the game against St Patrick’s. Jamie has a groin injury, so we’ll wait on those players and see how they’re fixed towards the end of the week.”

Hoban has been Dundalk’s key figure in the final third this season. The 27-year-old has been nominated for PFAI Player of the Year for his performances this campaign, with some even suggesting he has earned a chance to be called into Martin O’Neill’s senior international squad.

Hoban enjoyed a previous spell with Dundalk, winning the Premier Division title in 2014, before taking in frustrating spells with Oxford Town, Stevenage, Grimsby Town and Mansfield Town.

Kenny reflected that it would be a major disappointment for the player to miss out on Sunday’s cup final given his contribution to Dundalk’s success throughout 2018. Hoban has never played at the Aviva Stadium before as a player, however his manager stated firmly that sentimentality would play no factor in whether or not the striker played.

Patrick Hoban lifts the trophy Hoban lifts the SSE Airtricity League trophy at Oriel Park. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“It depends on the injury, you know? An ankle injury is one that, depending on the extent of it, maybe it is one of those in a final where people do want to get on. A hamstring or a muscle injury is different, every injury is different.

“But certainly I think Patrick will want to play. He’s never played there at the Aviva. It [could] be his first time playing there. I know he has been very keen about that, and it’s very much an ambition of his.

I have spoken to him about it for a while now. At the start of the season I spoke to him about it, so I think it’s something that he has been looking forward to, so he will be keen to play. But he’s not able to train at the moment.”

“No, no, no,” Kenny responded when asked if sentimentality would play a factor.

“He would be in my mind because he can contribute a lot to the team. He’s in the fulcrum of our attack, he has spear-headed the attack and has been very influential this season.

“I knew he was a good player when he left [Mansfield] but he’s obviously had a great impact this season, with that hunger coming back and him wanting to do well.”

Patrick Hoban Hoban has not trained this week, with Dundalk due to make a decision in the coming days over whether he will play on Sunday. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Dundalk have been plagued by a recent bout of injury woes. Both Jamie McGrath and Robbie Benson were left out of the side which drew against Bohemians last Friday night, with Kenny hopeful that his entire team will be recovered by Sunday afternoon.

“I can’t be certain [that they will all be fit],” the manager added.

In my experience in cup finals, players can often pull through, whether they are right or not, but you’ve got to make decisions based on… you can’t be sentimental about these things and you have to base them on good medical judgement and your own instincts.”

The Lilywhites have collected nine trophies during the Dubliner’s six seasons in charge at Oriel Park, with this weekend’s final presenting Dundalk with a chance to seal their second double in four years.

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Aaron Gallagher

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