Dundalk's Tallaght man Kurtis keen for cut at Rovers in quarter-final on 'home' turf
TALLAGHT boy Kurtis Byrne hopes he is one of the few locals still smiling at the end of business hours in tonight's FAI Cup game in the Dublin suburb.
Shamrock Rovers-Dundalk clashes have proved to be some of the most fascinating battles of the last two seasons and there's another instalment in Tallaght Stadium tonight when the two sides face off in the FAI Ford Cup quarter-final, another meeting on the way to next weekend's EA Sports Cup final.
Tallaght Stadium wasn't complete when Byrne left his homeplace to try his luck in Britain as a teenager, and after spells in England and various levels in Scotland he has found a home in Dundalk.
"It's funny to be coming back to play in Tallaght for the away side. The ground is only five minutes away from my mam's house.
"All my mates are going but I have to do all I can to make sure we get the win and get into the next round," says Byrne.
"The matches against Rovers have been great since I came to the club.
"They have all been tight, mainly 1-0 or 2-1. It will be a battle here in Tallaght but we feel confident after the win against Derry on Monday.
"When I was growing up I'd have gone down to watch St Pats a fair bit, as they were closest club to me, and all my mates went.
"Once I went to England I lost interest in the League of Ireland and didn't keep an eye on it. But since I came back home I see what a good league it is and what the standard is like," added Byrne, who has rebuilt his career after some underwhelming form in Scotland.
He tried to make an impact at Hibs after a spell with Norwich City but ended up in backwaters like Alloa, Brechin and East Stirling before Stephen Kenny - also from Tallaght - lured him home.
"I had offers to stay in Scotland but once I spoke to Stephen, I made up my mind," he says. "It was a no-brainer to come home and since I came to Dundalk I have never looked back. There are a lot of good players in the league here.
"Some players coming to the league from England might think they can come home and take it handy as the standard is easy but it's not like that, not at all.
"I have had to work hard over the last two years but we are all getting the rewards."
Cup success has eluded Byrne for most of his senior career so far and Dundalk's confidence took a hammering last Friday with that loss to Pats, but the talk in Dundalk is focusing on a possible treble of league, FAI Cup and League Cup.
However, boss Kenny said: "We just take it one game at a time, we have so many matches in so many competitions this season,"