Celebrations for Cork City lifting the trophy in last year's final  (Credit: Matt Kirkham)

FAI Cup Final Preview: Cork City - v - Dundalk
Published: November 04, 2017

So it is here, the traditional end of the season showpiece game where two teams try to encapsulate what the League of Ireland means to fans and players alike through a 90 minute and maybe more performance, after which we all lament the fact that we have to wait over three months before the likes are seen again.

 

Except this time, as Tom O’Connor wrote on extratime on Friday (see here), it is different.

 

Both teams have served up cautious two hour Cup Final editions twice in the past two seasons - with a winner appearing phoenix like from the nervous carnage which had previously consumed fans and players alike.

 

This year’s fare takes on a new dimension as this season has flipped the manner in which the respective rivals arrive at the Aviva. No longer are Dundalk the reigning league champions looking to complete a double.

 

Now it is Cork City who are trying to achieve a feat they also sought in 2005 but on that occasion failed to achieve after narrowly losing against Drogheda United.

 

The scene is set for a huge game for both teams.

 

For the Leesiders there the chance to avenge that 2005 defeat and achieve a first ever league and cup double.

 

For the Lilywhites they are looking for more silverware to add to the EA Sports Cup and try to re-establish some supremacy over the rivals of the last four seasons.

 

CORK CITY

The league champions have held the upper hand over Dundalk in the majority of their meetings over the past two seasons and performed almost perfectly in the opening 21 league games, as well as playing admirably in Europe.

 

However, since the departures of Seánie Maguire (who will miss Ireland’s playoff game – see here) and Kevin O’Connor, it is undeniable that their results haven’t been at the same level and that their attacking threat has been blunted.

 

Contrast that with the fact that they have very talented midfielders - a balance of energy, guile and graft - a solid centre back pairing and a forward unit, most especially Stephen Dooley and Stephen Beattie (when played as a winger), which has caused Dundalk problems in the recent past. 

 

They arrive into the clash as reigning FAI Cup holders and won’t want to give up their crown without a serious battle.

 

DUNDALK

The Lilywhites are in an unusual position insofar as they enter into this clash for the first time in “The Trilogy” as neither league nor FAI Cup champions.

 

It has been trumpeted as a season of transition for Stephen Kenny’s men with a number of new signings this season, as well as some notable departures.

 

However, despite this, the reality is that the squad will be disappointed with how the league turned out for them this season.

 

Skipper Stephen O’Donnell spoke with extratime.ie on the eve of the game of how a second cup win would transform a decent season into a very good one (see here).

 

The truth is that a victory on Sunday would provide a tonic for some of the disappointment foisted upon them by the loss of their league crown.

 

However, to achieve success, they need their talented forwards to find and create space in a Cork defence which has been miserly for most of this season.

 

Referee: Paul McLaughlin

 

MATCH STATS

This is the first time in FAI Cup history that the same finalists have met three years in a row.

 

Gary Rogers and Mark McNulty were the respective substitute goalkeepers in that 2005 final.

 

Both sides have won thirteen games in the competition since the start of 2015.

 

Dundalk have won the FAI Cup ten times previously while Cork City have previously won the FAI Cup on three occasions

 

ROUTE TO THE LANSDOWNE ROAD

First Round

Dundalk 4 Derry City 0

Bray Wanderers 0 Cork City 1

 

Second Round

Crumlin United 1 Dundalk 3

Cork City 7 Athlone Town 0

 

Quarter Final

Dundalk 4 Drogheda United 0

Longford Town 1 Cork City 4

 

Semi Final

Dundalk 1 Shamrock Rovers 1

Shamrock Rovers 2 Dundalk 4 (Replay)

Cork City 1 Limerick 0

 

BETTING

Dundalk 11/10; Draw 23/10; Cork City 23/10.

 

PREDICTION

This is difficult result to predict as Cork City have been excellent at grinding out single goal victories while Dundalk FC have the ability to dismantle even the top teams in this league (3-0 EA Sports Cup Final and 4-0 very Derry City earlier in this competition).

 

Despite their loss against Bohemians, Dundalk are the team showing the better at the moment so the prediction is that they will sneak a 2-1 victory.

 

Though, don’t be surprised to see Cork City record yet another 1-0 win!

 

Cork City

Injured:                John Dunleavy, Alec Byrne

Suspended:         None

 

Dundalk

Injured:               None

Suspended:         None

 

 


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