Sligo Rovers and Shelbourne go head to head in the final of this year’s FAI Ford Cup at the Aviva Stadium this afternoon (kick-off 3.30pm).
First Division side Shelbourne will be considered underdogs for this year’s showpiece, coming up against the current champions, but that will suit Alan Mathews’ side ahead of the game.
The Tolka Park side have enjoyed a great season after securing their return to the Premier Division with a second place finish in the league, so this afternoon’s occasion will be seen as a bonus for Shels.
Mathews has a full panel to choose from, apart from injured duo club captain Dave McGill and defender Lorcan Fitzgerald.
Shels boss Mathews said: “It’s a showcase occasion and it’s a wonderful place for the players to find themselves for the last game of the season.
“We were bitterly disappointed that we didn’t win the league on Saturday night - and that regret and that pain is still with a lot of us and we need to utilise that and convert it into a positive, which we will, to ensure that we get a good day on Sunday. A good day for us is to win the cup and that’s what we’ll be trying to do.
“For the club to be promoted was the objective at the start of the year. To find ourselves now in the Cup Final, it’s a terrific place to be and we really need to ensure that we maximise the opportunity and make sure we do everything we can to try and win it.
“They (Sligo Rovers) are a top premiership side, with good players in every position – and probably on the bench as well – so from our end of it we know that we’re going into a difficult battle against a good side, but we’ll prepare properly for the game and we’ll ensure we do our very best.”
Sligo will start their third FAI Cup final in a row as favourites but must plan without influential midfielder Joseph Ndo.
The former Cameroon international is ruled out with a hamstring strain, however otherwise, Sligo boss Paul Cook has a full squad to choose from.
Cook said: "We don't underestimate Shelbourne in any shape or form. They are a very good side with very good players. They have a strong manager who knows the game inside out.
"If we don't address the game in the right manner, or get any sort of cockiness, the game will be over and we won't win. We would be sitting on the bus going back to Sligo having lost the cup final."
"This stage is fantastic for the players. I might be wrong but I have such confidence in my team. Football is a cruel game. We might get beaten, we might win, nobody can predict that.
"But I have a good team, I have good players, we're going to have great support and I can't wait for the game."