'No home rule for Derry'
'Cup Final will be won on pitch and not by changing roon or kit colour' insists Hoare
THE club's last four trips to the Lansdowne Road area have yielded misery and tears for St Patrick's Athletic.
But Saints defender Sean Hoare, preparing for his first run-out at the headquarters of the national team in Sunday's FAI Cup final clash with Derry City, feels that the current batch of players can, finally, make the Aviva Stadium a field of dreams.
In four appearances at the Dublin 4 venue, Pats have lost Cup finals, three times in the old Lansdowne Road (1996, 2003, 2006) and most recently at the shiny new Aviva (2012).
And the Derry camp already see a chink of light in their bid to land the Cup as City have been deemed the home team for Sunday's game, so Derry will get the home dressing room and get to wear their traditional red and white shirts with Pats forced to use their away kit.
And City players won't need reminding that it was the same scenario for them (home changing room and home kit) when they beat Pats in '12 and '06. But Pats, already guaranteed Europa League football next season thanks to a third-place finish in the league, don't care about that.
"It doesn't matter to me, Derry can have the home dressing room if they want, the game will be won on the pitch, not by the changing room or the colour of your kit and once you get out on the pitch none of the side issues matter," says Hoare, the young defender who hopes to finish off a fine season by keeping his place in the starting XI for Sunday, as he maintains that Pats will feel right at home on Sunday.
"I think the size of the pitch will suit us as we like to get it down and play," says Hoare.
"It would be something else to play in the Aviva, I have watched Ireland play there so it's great for me to have a chance of getting out there on that pitch, in one of the best stadiums in the world.
"I know that players like Messi and di Maria have changed in the away dressing room that we'll use on Sunday, so you must be doing something right in your career if you are on that stage.
"We have worked hard to get to this stage and we can't let the occasion get to us."
A fringe player in the 2013 league-winning season, Hoare has forced his way into the Saints side this term with 22 league appearances, and could get the nod to start alongside Kenny Browne in central defence against that Rory Patterson-led Derry attack on Sunday, though veteran Ken Oman is also in the frame.
"I would like to think I have done well in the rounds coming up to this final and hopefully I can keep my place, but it's the manager's call," says Hoare ahead of his first Cup final experience.
"This week has been a bit surreal, getting fitted for suits and doing all the media, having the TV cameras here, but it's all just part of it, we have to keep our heads right and focus on our job, which is on the pitch," he told The Herald.
"The older lads in the squad have had a word with the younger boys, just telling to to keep our heads and stay focused on the aim for the week which is winning a match on Sunday and not letting ourselves get overwhelmed by it all."
A former Shelbourne schoolboy, Hoare has impressed at Richmond Park this season, even though he was juggling the demands of a full-time college course with his football commitments (he passed his repeats) and it's a good sign for the club that Hoare is under contract for next season, potentially a big year for the club.
"I know we have a place in Europe secured already but we want to win this Cup on Sunday. I wouldn't say that the season will have been a disaster if we don't get a trophy but winning the Cup would put a nice gloss on the season," he says.
Pats are the in-form team ahead of Sunday as Derry's league form dropped off the face of the earth once their Cup final place was secured.
"In the last few games they haven't played their strongest XI so we can't ready anything into Derry's league form. Cup finals are tricky and it all comes down to who plays on the day, I know it's a cliché but the team that shows up on the day will win it," says Hoare. "But I think it's good for us that we kept up our league form, winning games breeds confidence.
"In the last league game, away to Sligo, we played well and knocked the ball around really well but that was a rehearsal for the big one this Sunday, if we had come into the final having lost a few games, having played crap, then I think our heads would be down a bit so Derry can do their own thing, we are focused on ourselves.
"I think Sunday will be a battle, they always give us a battle, especially away from home.
"But the Aviva will suit us with the way we play, we can get the ball down and use our players.
"We have to be physically up for it as well as the battle of skills," he added.