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Dublin: 3°C Thursday 4 March 2021

'Players like him deserve to play in games like this'

Vinny Perth and Stephen Bradley both have their say on the Chris Shields’ FAI Cup final suspension.

Chris Shields will miss Sunday's FAI Cup final.
Chris Shields will miss Sunday's FAI Cup final.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

DUNDALK BOSS VINNY Perth was keen to focus on this weekend’s FAI Cup final with Shamrock Rovers rather than going into too much detail on news that key player Chris Shields will be suspended for the game.

The midfielder will not feature, after picking up eight bookings this season.

Perth says he only discovered the team would be without the reigning PFAI Player of the Year on Saturday morning.

A previous rule change dictated that a player who picked up four bookings during a season would be granted an amnesty for the cup final, though this does not extend to eight yellow cards over the course of a season, with Shields’ suspension kicking in after he was cautioned in Dundalk’s 1-0 loss to Cork a fortnight ago.

“To be honest, I think that we don’t need excuses between now and Sunday,” the Dundalk boss told reporters.

“I have always been open and honest with the media.

“I think that I can leave the ins and outs of it until after Sunday.

“I’m disappointed for Chris on a personal level, but it’s probably typical of our season, we have had a really difficult season.

“Four minutes into our first game this season, Robbie Benson broke his leg. About an hour later Patrick McEleney broke his ankle, so we’ve had a really difficult season.

“The fixture computer certainly has not helped us and it’s not the first difficult suspension that we have had this season, so as a group, we have go get on with it.

“We are very relaxed over it and have moved open from the weekend, we have accepted it.”

When pressed on the matter, Perth added: “Look, there are loads of different things that could and should have happened. As head of the football club, I take responsibility for it in the football part of it.

“I’ll go into the ins and outs of if after Sunday. I don’t think that we need to get into excuse-making mode in any way, shape or form. We accept it and move on.

“Chris is obviously extremely disappointed. It’s not something that we were naive to, so it was a bit of a shock to the two of us after we found out.

Chris is extremely disappointed but there you go, we have accepted it and the rest of the squad has.

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“Remember, I look after 24 players in the squad and another seven or eight members of staff. There are 24 people looking forward to this weekend. It’s just unfortunate for Chris as a person.

“Strangely, I think that we are known as a free-flowing football team with a lot of skilful players — Duffy, McEleney, Hoban’s goals.

“And he is slightly different than them, but he is Mr Dundalk at the same time, so it’s very disappointing for him. But we have accepted it and moved on.”

Perth continued: “We have not focused on Shamrock Rovers until this week and being obsessed with this game. We don’t manage that way.

We spent the last month trying to improve ahead of next season. For example, we tried three at the back where Chris was not involved, for argument’s sake. We are constantly trying to improve.

“Because going into this weekend, this is not a season-defining game for us, no matter what happens. I just hope that it’s a brilliant final for both teams and for Irish football.

“By eight o’clock if we have lost I will be disappointed but I won’t be disappointed with the season that we have had. By eight o’clock on Sunday we will have had one of the greatest seasons of any Dundalk team.”

stephen-bradley-after-the-game Stephen Bradley expressed sympathy with Shields. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

On the news that Dundalk would be without Shields, Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley added: “I’m disappointed for him, to be honest,because he’s a top player. Players like him deserve to play in games like this and occasions like this.

“It’s about showcasing the league, it’s the best two teams in the country and you want the best players on the pitch and he’s one of them. I feel for him as an individual, I genuinely do, he’s earned the right to play here. The rules are the rules.

“I remember a few years ago, there was a thing with Jason McGuinness, a commotion over a similar incident. I feel him for him as the best players deserve to play in these games and he’s one of them.

“It doesn’t alter anything, how we’ve prepared, nothing. I only found out about it when I came here.

He’s obviously a big player for them and they will miss him no matter what way you cover it, you’d like to see him on the pitch, he’s a good player.

“It’s happened a few times over the years, I do think [suspensions] should be wiped. We had to be careful because Ronan [Finn] was very close to missing as well, so the last few weeks we’ve had to be careful with Ronan.”

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Paul Fennessy

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