By Gerard Mulreaney (@gerardmulreaney)
Sligo Rovers will host Premier Division champions Dundalk on Sunday in front of a sell-out crowd at the Showgrounds.
Manager Liam Buckley has won the FAI Cup on two occasions, with both Sporting Fingal in 2009 and St Patrick’s Athletic in 2014, and he hopes his team can reach this years final and give himself a chance to make it three.
Rovers head into the game in great form, following five wins from six games – albeit losing 2-0 to Dundalk in their only defeat.
Buckley knows the difficulty of the task facing his side but he’s confident that the team that takes to the field on Sunday will be up to that task. He said, “We will have our game plan, it’s a one-off game. We can’t afford to think this is something where it can be easy at any point over 90 minutes. We have to limit them. They will get chances, no doubt about that. We have to play to get chances because it will only happen by design.”
Ahead of the game local politician Blaine Gaffey announced that his Lillies Cocktail and Gin bar would be sponsoring the big game
Absolutely delighted to announce that Lillies will be the official match sponsor for the @FAIreland Cup Semi Final this weekend. Good luck to all at @sligorovers from everyone at Sligo’s No1 Premium Cocktail & Gin Bar, Lillies Sligo! @BitORedTrust @bit_red #Sligo @BeBrown_ie pic.twitter.com/euvPvRzOTh
— Blaine Gaffney (@BlaineGaffney19) September 23, 2019
“You will see improvement in us in the future because of the work we have done this year and you’ll see it for the rest of this season and next season. We will be better for some of the stuff we have worked on. They are a top team, they retained their players this year and brought in one or two to strengthen up and I’m sure they’ll do the same next year, continued Buckley.
“They are at a slightly different level to where we are at, along with Shamrock Rovers as well. Those two clubs would have greater resources. That said, we’ll have XI out on the night and if our players are organised collectively and driven, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
“We are going to have to put in a shift but we have to believe we are going to do it. I do believe we will do it and we have to have a mentality across the board to say ‘let’s get at it’. Dundalk have 23 or 24 players, they could put out two teams where either team would be in the top three here, if not winning it. That is where they are at.”
With a sell-out crowd set to be in attendance Buckley wants the fans to be fully behind them for the whole 90 minutes, “It’s great to have that support. You’re playing for what is set to be 3,500 Sligo Rovers fans here on the day and it is a big game. I hope it is the first of many to come. We want them behind us, I think they will be behind us because they have done so all season. Dundalk will be used to big occasions. It’s a 90-minute game. We’ll prepare as best we can, and see where it takes us.”
“The Cup is on the day. You need bit of luck which I’ve had myself over the years. Hopefully we get it on the day.”
“I would be the happiest man in Sligo on Sunday if we win because I know the consequence of it is an opportunity in a final. There is a lot at stake. That said, I do see improvement in the group. They are settled, they have a good dynamic and it’s a help going forward for sure.”
Photo Credit: Sligo Rovers FC