2014 FAI Cup champions St Patrick's Athletic meet 2014 SSE Airtricity League champions Dundalk in Oriel Park tomorrow afternoon as Liam Buckley's Saints aim to defend their President's Cup title against Stephen Kenny's Lilywhites (kick-off 3pm).
Having won the inaugural final last year as league champions, the Saints now enter this match in 2015 as FAI Cup champions having won the competition last year for the first time in 53 years. By contrast, Dundalk ended a 19 year wait to win the League of Ireland, edging rivals Cork City in the final game of the season in the SSE Airtricity League title.
Both sides have had competitive fixtures in their pre-season preparations, the Saints coming through a fourth round Leinster Senior Cup tie against Tolka Rovers 7-0, while Dundalk beat UCD 2-1 in the same competition and claimed the Malone Cup against rivals Drogheda United last week on a 2-0 scoreline.
For Saints' manager Liam Buckley, while Saturday's game is a chance to add to the silverware cabinet and retain a trophy the Saints previously won, the goal is to also continue his side preparation's for next week's league opener against Shamrock Rovers.
“We've had a good pre-season and I think the lads are now ready to get back into the rhythm of playing games week in, week out,” Buckley said when speaking to stpatsfc.com. “Saturday's game against Dundalk is a great one for both sides as we both are looking to add more silverware to the trophy cabinet, while the game will hopefully set us up well for next week's league opener.”
In team news, Buckley has a few injury doubts with Kenny Browne (thigh), Ger O'Brien (hamstring), Jack Bayly (groin) and Jamie McGrath (groin) all doubts for the game - McGrath coming back off his involvement with Republic of Ireland under 19 squad in which he scored twice in a friendly against Azerbaijan.
The Saints however include new signings Conor O'Malley, Jason McGuinness, Lee Desmond and Ciarán Kilduff in the matchday squad, along with Saints' full-back Ian Bermingham who is line to make his 200th appearance for Pat's in all competitions should he feature.
For Saints' player Conor McCormack, the game is one against his local SSE Airtricity League side as the former Manchester United youth hails from Carlingford. Having previoiusly played with several of the Dundalk side or through knowing people in the local football scene in Louth, McCormack admitted when talking to stpatsfc.com that it would be nice to get the bragging rights heading into the start of the league season.
“Dundalk is always a big game for me as I'm local to the club and went to games when I was a youngster - my dad and I went down to Oriel Park around the time that Dundalk won the FAI Cup in 2002. A few of cousins are season ticket holders too so it's a big game for me and my family! With Darius Kierans and Killian Brennan also in our camp, there's a lot of Louth interest in the game so hopefully we can get the result!”
With silverware on offer, McCormack stressed that the Saints would be going all out for the win and admitted it would be a good fillip for the side ahead of next week's league opener against Shamrock Rovers.
“Any trophy is good to win, and winning is a great habit to get into so we'll all be looking for the win. We've had a good pre-season as Paul Stewart has come into the coaching team and done some good work with us so we're feeling good. We've done well in matches and scored a few goals so we're all just raring to go now and play matches.”
Stand tickets for the game are €20 for adults, €15 for concessions and €5 for juveniles, while ground tickets are €15 for adults, €10 for concessions and €5 for juveniles.
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