Dave Barry doesn’t expect the war of words between Cork City and Dundalk to spill over onto the pitch at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.
And he says he’d be disappointed if this week’s controversy in the build-up to the FAI Cup final sours relations between the two great rivals.
Yesterday, Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny reacted angrily after footage emerged of Cork keeper Mark McNulty singing ‘Fuck the Lilywhites’ at an event to celebrate the club winning the league title.
“You have to have sporting respect,” said Kenny. “That’s sort of out of the gutter really.”
But City legend Barry, now an RTÉ analyst, doesn’t believe the row will have a negative effect on Sunday’s game.
“All players will talk about what’s said in the other dressing room or what’s said about you anywhere else and people do remember things going into games,” he says.
“But I think the Dundalk lads are experienced enough, after winning three leagues in a row and with what they did in Europe, that they won’t carry it onto the pitch, thinking, ‘I’m going to do someone’.
“I’ve never seen anything like that boil over in games between the two clubs. I’ve not seen one nasty challenge over the last four years. Tough challenges yes, when they’re going for the ball. And I think both sides will be concentrating on the ball on Sunday.
“Both sets of supporters have been a credit to the league. When I’ve mingled with Dundalk supporters, there’s never been any animosity or anything. I’d be extremely disappointed if this sours relationships between the clubs. I don’t think it will.”
Of Kenny’s impassioned response to McNulty’s supporters’ chant, Barry said: “I can see where he would be coming from.
"With Mark, you get a pub full of people, a few hundred Cork City supporters flying flags, you’re after winning something and you stand up and say something — it’s unfortunate, a comment like that, but you can get carried away with the moment.
“For me, it was high spirits after winning. I think the lads down here would feel it’s not really about Dundalk, it’s more about the view of Cork City in the media and the football they played: that a lot of it was high intensity, long ball stuff. And when you win things you verbalise it.
“And I do think at times Cork City don’t get enough credit for the football they played. I have to say that some of the best football I’ve seen from a Cork City side over the 30 years since the club was formed was played by the lads this year.”
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