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Seven reasons why you shouldn't miss Sunday's FAI Cup final

Irish football’s top two teams will square off.

IT’S DUNDALK VERSUS Cork City on Sunday (3.30pm) at the Aviva Stadium, with the FAI Cup up for grabs. Here’s why we think you should be there…

Value for money

A general view of the Aviva Stadium ahead of the game The Aviva Stadium is the venue for the 2015 FAI Cup final. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Tickets are available from Ticketmaster for just €10 (€5 for children under 16). A few former Irish internationals will be involved, as well as a couple of potential future ones, so there’ll be no shortage of quality on show. The Women’s FAI Cup final between Wexford Youths and Shelbourne also acts as the curtain-raiser, so Sunday’s occasion is an absolute bargain in our estimation.

Feast before the famine

John Kavanagh takes a throw in Action from Dundalk's win over Cork City at Turner's Cross in May. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Domestic action ends for another season after Sunday’s final so this will be your last chance to savour the best of what the Irish game has to offer for four months. A meeting of the country’s top two teams at the Aviva Stadium with the FAI Cup on the line; it’s not a bad way to sign off for 2015.

History in the making

Dundalk celebrate John Flanagan, Stephen McGuinness and Cormac Malone celebrate after Dundalk's FAI Cup triumph in 2002. Source: INPHO

Nine-time winners Dundalk are aiming to end a 13-year wait for an FAI Cup triumph, stretching back to their 2-1 defeat of Bohemians in 2002 — their most recent appearance in the final. Should they succeed, it’ll be their first double since 1988 and the first for any team since Bohs’ league-and-cup victories of 2008. For Cork City, Sunday’s final marks their first appearance in the decider since their 1-0 win over Longford Town in 2007, which gave them the cup for just the second time in their history. Either way, a significant gap will be bridged by the victors.

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Eidur Gudjohnsen 16/8/2004 Cork City's ex-Manchester United midfielder Liam Miller tussling with Chelsea's Eidur Gudjohnsen in 2004. Source: ©INPHO

Both Dundalk and Cork City are strong from top to bottom, but it’s in the middle of the park where their biggest names operate. There are injury concerns over City’s Colin Healy and Liam Miller, although the duo — who have 34 senior Ireland caps between them — are expected to be involved. They’ll need to be at their best to curb the influence of their opposite numbers. Richie Towell, Stephen O’Donnell and the extremely under-rated Chris Shields have been superb in 2015 for the back-to-back league champions. That central battle will be a key element of Sunday’s final.

Dundalk’s dominance

Richie Towell celebrates scoring his side's fourth goal Dundalk's talisman Richie Towell. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Stephen Kenny has guided Dundalk to the summit of Irish football and they’ve done so while remaining loyal to an attractive brand of football, which has made them a joy to watch at times. Win or lose this weekend, Dundalk’s status as the best team in the country won’t change. However, the FAI Cup is the only domestic trophy that has eluded the Lilywhites under Kenny’s reign. This Dundalk team — who recently broke a 92-year-old record for the most goals scored in a season — is one of the best sides the League of Ireland has seen in recent memory, as evidenced by their price as 4/5 favourites against the team who finished just one place behind them in the league.

Cork’s conundrum

Johnny Dunleavy Will Cork City captain John Dunleavy be lifting this piece of silverware on Sunday? Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

It’s 10 games since Cork City have tasted victory against Dundalk. The Leesiders have lost six and drawn three of their last nine meetings with the men from Louth. At this stage we’re starting to wonder if Dundalk have developed some kind of psychological stranglehold over their fiercest rivals. They may have finished closer to Stephen Kenny’s side in the league than any other team for the past two seasons, but City have failed to do what Bohemians, Shamrock Rovers, St Patrick’s Athletic, Sligo Rovers, Bray Wanderers and Drogheda United all have. The 2015 FAI Cup final would be an ideal time for John Caulfield’s team — who are priced at 7/2 — to finally make the breakthrough.

There’s more than one piece of silverware up for grabs

Free

Before Cork City and Dundalk lock horns on Sunday, Shelbourne will take on Wexford Youths in the Women’s FAI Cup final at 12.20pm. Make sure you’re in your seat nice and early in case you miss anything like Katie McCabe’s cracking free-kick for Raheny United against UCD Waves in last year’s decider.

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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