Dundalk might not begin the defence of their league title until they play Derry City next week, but midfielder Jordan Flores insists he doesn’t regard tomorrow’s President’s Cup game against Shamrock Rovers at Oriel Park as a preliminary event.
“It is a competitive match this early and it is a good game for us,” he said. “There’s a trophy on the line and we want to start the season in the right way.
“We want to win everything possible and Sunday is the start of it. We want to challenge for all of them.
"We won four of them last year and we want to win the five of them now and compete well in Europe.
“That all starts on Sunday. Shamrock Rovers are a good side, they pushed us last year so we know they will be there again.
"It’s going to be difficult but hopefully we can get the win and start the season off right.”
Rovers and Ireland midfielder Jack Byrne, who will hold only a watching brief tomorrow, won’t be reading too much into the outcome of the game since he’s sure “mind games” will play their part in the season’s curtain-raiser.
Asked if Rovers could use the match to make a statement about the season ahead, he referenced the Hoops’ cup triumph against the league champions back in November.
“We made a statement last year,” he said. “The President’s Cup, it is what it is, but it’s still a pre-season game on paper.
Of course we want to win, and of course we want to go up there and give the best account of ourselves, but is somebody going to play through the pain barrier against Dundalk if they’re struggling with a knock from pre-season?
"Or are you going to be rested and play against Bohs (in Rovers’ opening league game next Saturday)?
“Of course you want to win every game you play in, but everybody knows how important the Bohs game is and how important it is to get the league off to a good start.
"I wouldn’t be surprised if Dundalk played two up front and then we played them six weeks later and they have one up front, or they play three at the back and next time they’re playing two at the back.
"There’s going to mind games going on here. Let’s not kid ourselves.”
Dundalk have contested the last five President’s Cups, four of them against Cork City. Having won it twice, this will be the third time that the Lilywhites will host the final.
Tomorrow’s game is a replay of last year’s FAI Cup final which saw the Hoops beat Dundalk in a penalty shoot-out at the Aviva to lift the trophy for the first time in 32 years, a victory which now gives the Dublin club the chance to play in the President’s Cup for the first time.
Kick off at Oriel Park is at 3pm.