Perth relishing ‘great occasion’ at sold-out final
The countdown has begun to Saturday’s EA Sports Cup final, which sees Dundalk take on cup holders Derry City at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium with the first major trophy of the season on the line.
For Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth it represents the chance to win a third EA Sports Cup in six years, but the first chance of major silverware since taking over as head coach.
Speaking at today’s media day ahead of the final – where he appeared alongside Candystripes boss Declan Devine – Perth said he was looking forward to what should be a “great occasion” in a sold-out Brandywell.
Our video interview with Perth and Dundalk centre-back Daniel Cleary is available to view below – or on DFC TV on YouTube – but here’s a bit more in-depth comment from the gaffer as he looks forward to his first major final since taking over as head coach.
On Saturday’s final and a chance of silverware…
“I’m looking forward to it. The ground looks like it’s sold out, which will make for a great occasion, and there’s no doubt that makes it difficult for us, because of the noise that comes from the Derry section, but our players will relish that.
“I’ve said all along that if we’re going to win this competition, we’re going to have to do it the hard way: Pats away, UCD and Bohs – all Premier Division sides. We’ve been tested in this competition.
“This is just a stepping stone to what we’re trying to achieve. I don’t think it’s a season-defining match but, at the same time, the players really want to put on a good show and hopefully take some silverware home.”
On the feeling in the squad after a remarkable domestic run of form…
“There’s a certain amount of confidence in the squad. It’s been difficult. We’re averaging a game every three days in recent times and that’s meant there’s a lot of fatigue and a lot of recovery.
“We’re not overly training. We’ve not had an opportunity to train this week with Derry’s patterns of play in mind and they would have had that, though I’m sure Derry would prefer to be in Waterford on Monday night for an FAI Cup quarter-final. But that’s the price of success and we embrace that.
“The players have been a credit to themselves. They’ve driven this themselves – their recovery, their ability to turn up and be fresh every day and in every match. Full credit must go to them and I just hope they get the rewards come Saturday night, for what’s been a mammoth run of games.”
On the sort of final we can expect after some tough encounters with Derry City this season…
“They are two teams that play a really good brand of football. Both teams will go and try and create goals. I don’t think it will be a defensive game from either team. It will be a proper game of football and a proper test.
“The way we’ve got to look at it is, if Derry score four, we’ve got to be thinking ‘how can we get five?’ and vice versa. That’s the type of mindset in both camps. Scoring goals and having a good brand of football.
“Derry made it difficult for us this year. They’re a good side and we’ll expect a really tough game there on Saturday night. If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it the hard way.”
On the possibility of an EA Sports Cup win acting as a springboard, as it did in 2014…
“I think this trophy can often act as a catalyst for the future, but it won’t be the defining moment in our season, win, lose, or draw on Saturday night.
“It’s an opportunity for silverware. We’ve really targeted all three trophies this season and we’re in a good place, we’re in a cup final and we’re in good form. We have got some challenges in terms of who’s fit and available after the run of games we’ve had, but we want to use this as a catalyst for the business end of the season.
“It’s a real opportunity to give a lot of confidence into the squad again, to lift up our first bit of silverware and use that to drive us on and win the league as soon as we can and in the best style we can, if we’re going to achieve that goal.
“This is the next goal and we’ve got to tick this one off first, so all of our focus now is on Derry.”
On the performance on the squad this season…
“It’s well documented that we’ve had injuries and challenges, and a lot of players have missed six or seven weeks in specific positions. We’ve lost a big leader like Robbie Benson for the whole season and is just coming back.
“So that’s been difficult but it’s the price of success. We can complain about it all we want, but we have to accept that it’s part of football.
“The players are well able for this. They’ve just shown a huge level of professionalism and we deal with it, we get on with it. If that’s the price of success, then so be it.”
On the travelling Dundalk support…
“Our away support this year has been brilliant. Up in Tallaght and in Richmond Park were really strong ones that stick out in my mind. Away in Latvia was the most amazing experience for me with our travelling fans.
“We’re going to need that again because there’s no doubt that the Derry crowd will make a lot of noise. They will be up for it and make it hostile to a point, so we’re going to need our supporters.
“As I’ve always said, if we’re going to be successful this year, we need the owners, the players, the staff and the supporters all to be as one team.
“If we can achieve our goals and then we can look back and celebrate come November. That’s our challenge now and this is one more opportunity to pick up silverware and we’ll do it together.