Leinster Cup Draw Reaction
Dundalk FC manager Ian Foster is expecting a different-look Shamrock Rovers when the clubs go head-to-head in the Leinster Senior Cup after being paired in this week’s Fourth Round Draw. The tie, if it goes ahead at the same time as when last year’s competition got underway for Dundalk, in the last week of February, would come just over a week before the Lilywhites travel to Tallaght Stadium for the opening matchnight of the Airtricity League Premier Division on Friday 4 March. And Foster believes Michael O’Neill will select very different teams for the two tests.
Reflecting on the draw, which follows the Lilywhites being pitted against Irish League leaders Linfield in the Setanta Sports Cup, Foster pointed out the difficult early-season tasks his side have been handed. “That just seems to be the case at the moment,” Ian told dundalkfc.com when it was put to him that Dundalk have once again been dealt the most difficult draw possible. “If we want to win competitions we’re going to have to do it the hard way. It’s a competition that we’re not really paying an awful lot of attention to, in fairness. We’ll use it as a pre-season game, as we did last year with Ballymun. We took a team down to Bray in the following round and I think, off the top of my head, we made ten changes to that team. We could have made 11 and I’m sure we would have; it was just that Alan Cawley needed time on the pitch.
“I don’t know what sort of team Shamrock Rovers will have out for the game,” the 34-year-old added. “I imagine there will be an awful lot of changes to the team that we’ll face on 4 March. It’s a pre-season game and that’s how we’re looking at it.” And Foster insists that being drawn against the Hoops will not change that view. “It really doesn’t (make a difference),” he said. “Like I say, we’ll use it as a game for the players. I had it (Tuesday 22 February, the date he hopes to play the game on) pencilled in as a pre-season fixture anyway. Obviously, we can’t play any trialists in the game or anything like that; it has got to be contracted players. We’ll use it as a pre-season game and it’s probably a benefit because it’s against decent players and decent opposition. It will probably stand us in good stead more than playing a Leinster Senior League team would.”
In it to win it
The Liverpool-born boss also doubts that the result will change the mindset of either team going into the opening-day league clash in Dublin 24. “I shouldn’t think so,” Foster said. “I don’t think it will be anywhere near the team that we face on 4 March and I don’t think it will be anywhere near the team that we put out in the league game either. I wouldn’t read anything into it. It will be a pre-season game and that will be it. But we’ll be going out to win it. We go into every game to win. Pre-season results don’t really matter though. You don’t like losing because what you want is a winning mentality going into the season. But I’d take losing every pre-season game and winning at Shamrock Rovers on the first day of the league season – that’s how I look at things. It’s about players getting to know each other, it’s about players getting fit and strong, and it’s not really about results at this stage.” Dundalk have won the Leinster Senior Cup, which was revived last season after a ten-year absence, on six occasions, the last coming back in the 1977/78 season.