Daniel Kelly says that sentiment will go out the window when he returns to The Carlisle Grounds for Dundalk’s Sports Direct Men’s FAI Cup tie with Bray Wanderers on Friday night.
After joining Bray from non-league St Patrick’s CY, Kelly made his League of Ireland debut for the Seagulls on the opening day of the 2018 season, when he came off the bench as a 71st-minute substitute in a 0-0 draw against Dundalk at Oriel Park.
He went on to make a further 24 appearances for the club before moving to Bohemians, and subsequently Dundalk, and although he has fond memories of his time in Bray, he said his sole aim is on dumping them out of the competition.
“I’m looking forward to going back down,” he said. “It’ll be my first time playing there since I played with them. I’ve only known what it’s like to play for the home team at The Carlisle Grounds.
“I can’t wait to go down. My mam and dad were at a game there recently and they said the pitch was decent which will really suit us.
“Bray is a great club but our main priority is getting through the tie and into the next round. We’d be into the quarters then and only two games away from the Aviva Stadium.
“We’ve had a chat about it. It’s a special day, the best of the year with your friends, family and over 30,000 people there, and it’s our goal to get there.”
Kelly scored the winner in Dundalk’s 1-0 win over Sligo Rovers last Friday, peeling off to the far post to head Archie Davies’s delivery home for his fifth goal of the season.
“I was delighted to get back on the scoresheet,” he said, “but the most important thing was that we got the win. We defended well and although it may have been a bit sticky, we definitely deserved the win.
“Archie is some man,” he added. “I think he has played about 70 games in the last 12 months and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. He’s been delivering crosses like that all season. When he gets on the ball, it’s always worth taking a chance because you know he’ll deliver.”
While Kelly has played in two finals, winning one and losing one, Davies is hoping to take another step towards his first and he said Dundalk would be taking nothing for granted against their First Division opponents.
“It’s always a challenge when you have to go away to a team in a lower league,” said Davies. “You see that in cup competitions all over the world. We can’t underestimate Bray because they will be right up for it but so will we.”
Bray Wanderers currently sit sixth in the SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division and have won just one of their last eight games.
However, Seagulls head coach Ian Ryan, who played for Dundalk in the last FAI Cup meeting between the sides in 2008, a fourth-round replay which Bray won 3-1 at Oriel Park, was manager of Wexford FC when they met Dundalk at the same stage of the competition last season, a 3-2 defeat which saw them take the Lilywhites all the way.
“It’s a big game,” he said. “It’s a big opportunity more so than anything else for us. We want to do well. We’re not there just to make up the numbers.
“We want to compete. We want to get through to the next round. It’s as simple as that. We know what we are up against. They are a far superior team at the minute. They are a team that has just played in Europe. We know what we are up against but we’ll give it a go.
“We’re massive underdogs. The pressure is on Dundalk to win against a First Division team but we can use that to our advantage.”
Team News: Robbie Benson returned to full training this week while Robbie McCourt is back in the squad after missing last week’s win over Sligo Rovers with illness. Keith Ward and John Mountney are out.