Glory run not done for Dundalk
FAI Cup Final: Dundalk v Cork City, Aviva Stadium, tomorrow, 3.40 (live rté2)
Having gone toe-to-toe with Zenit St Petersburg in a European tie which was shown live on TV in 56 different countries, an FAI Cup game back on home soil could have a taste of the mundate about it.
But with a 'double double' on offer for Dundalk Stephen Kenny's camp, who only arrived back home in Ireland from Russia last night with little time to prepare for Sunday's clash with Cork City at Lansdowne Road, the hunger is still there to go and achieve more on the domestic front.
"You'd go through a brick wall to get another medal," says Dundalk midfielder Ronan Finn, insisting that neither fatigue, nor a lack of desire, would be issues for the Cup holders.
"It's such a fantastic day out. Last year was such a brilliant day out for family and friends and we'll be raring to go. We'll be ready.
"We are on our own journey. The objective at the start of the year was retaining the league and winning the FAI Cup. Fatigue doesn't come into it.
"Cork have had a week to prepare for the game, we've had a different route. But, listen, no excuses come Sunday," added Finn.
"I think if you offered Cork our route, they would be all over it, like most teams in Ireland would. It's just a different way to prepare for a Cup final."
As they were tired from Thursday's exertions in St Petersburg, Dundalk needed to regroup, but despite a loss to Zenit, the manner of the performance has put an extra spring in their step.
They are, of course, up against a Cork side who have their own strong desire to land a major trophy, and a second season of finishing second best to Dundalk in the league and the Cup would be hard to swallow for City.
Cork have beaten Dundalk this season but, in the game that mattered most in the league last month, Dundalk won, and Dundalk boss Kenny is aware of how important tomorrow is to the Munster side.
"It's a big occasion, a huge occasion. Some people go through their lives not playing in one Cup final," said Kenny.
"Plus, we're the holders, the fact that we're second in the group in the Europa League and are the league champions, if we win the FAI Cup as well, it will be amazing.
"Cork City will have different ideas, they want to win it. So we'll have to fight hard to win it," he added.
Kenny will have to assess the health of his squad tomorrow before opting on a team but Robbie Benson at least will miss out.
Cork have no new injury problems so City manager John Caulfield has been able to plan for weeks.
"Cork brings a whole new challenge," says Finn.
"In fairness to Cork they have been fantastic against us this year.
"The game in Turner's Cross when they beat us 1-0 was a tough, tough game. But I think we were the better side in Oriel a few weeks ago. It's going to be a tough game. They are a very good side."
For Cork, tomorrow is, apart from the obvious trophy opportunity, a chance for revenge for last year's final loss to Dundalk.
"After that game, John Caulfield said in the dressing room that we'd be back again in a year, and we are," says Cork defender Kevin O'Connor.
"We want to go one step further than last year. The commitment this year has been frightening and, if anyone deserves it, this bunch of lads does."