Four titles including one double in Dane Massey’s six years at Oriel Park have done nothing to blunt the Dundalk defender’s appetite for more silverware.
“We’ve got a chance of winning the double and it’s something that we are not taking for granted,” says the 30-year-old full-back. “We want to grab it with both hands.”
That Sunday’s FAI Cup final will see yet another chapter in the Cork-Dundalk duopoly might not be to everyone’s taste but the Dubliner reckons that history will be kind to the intense rivalry between the two clubs.
“It would be nice to have other teams such as Shamrock Rovers and Bohs stepping up and really challenging,” he says, “but we will look back in 20 years’ time and think that the Dundalk-Cork City rivalry was fantastic — and hopefully saying that Dundalk edged it!
“The rivalry has been really great for the league and we have pushed each other on. And you would like to think that the standards in the league have risen with the two teams doing so well.”
The rivalry is not just between the collective — as individuals, the longer-serving players on both sides know each other well, with Massey especially relishing his personal battles with Karl Sheppard.
“Shep is a fantastic player and has done really well down in Cork,” he says. “Myself and Karl have been at it for a couple of years now, there’s a good bit of rivalry and I enjoy it. I’m sure that he enjoys it as well. He’s a tough player and he can take it as well as giving it out. That’s what makes it a great rivalry. If I make a mistake then I’m sure that Karl is going to be there and vice versa. It’s a personal little battle between the two of us but I’m sure that there will be plenty of them across the pitch.”
And that playing surface could be a factor in his side’s favour on Sunday, he suggests.
“The Aviva pitch is much bigger than at Oriel or Turner’s Cross so you have that extra bit of space for our players. Patrick McEleney can shine on a day like this and especially on a pitch like the Aviva and it also suits Mickey Duffy. The more space there is, all the better for us.”
And yet it’s City who have prevailed in the last final showdowns.
“We know each other so well and they’ve done their homework on us,” Massey responds. “They double up on us. There are two great defences on duty and neither side wants to concede. Gary Rogers has been flying and Mark McNulty is a top keeper. You also put that down to the back fours and fives playing so well.”
But, having already claimed the title in impressive fashion, Massey is confident that, this Sunday, Dundalk can put two successive defeats in the cup final behind them.
“The club was in a different position then compared to where we are now,” he says. “We’re coming off the back of winning the league while last year Cork had won the league and were really confident. This year we have a hungrier squad and our players are that bit more experienced.
“Mickey Duffy and Jamie McGrath have that bit more experience and are also in better form. Pat Hoban came back from England and has been an absolutely phenomenal player this year, scoring that crazy amount of goals. We are a hungry group of players who still want to do it.”