The last time Dundalk faced Bohemians in the FAI Cup they went into the game as underdogs, just as they will at Dalymount Park on Friday night.
On that occasion back in September 2012 the Lilywhites were on a 13 match run without a win in the league with serious question marks over the club’s future both on and off the field.
If the problems now are nothing by comparison to eight years ago, Dundalk will be hoping for a similar outcome in Phibsborough on Friday.
Like now, Bohs were tipped to advance to the last four but it was Darius Kierans’ side who would prevail thanks to a stunning 75th minute free kick from local man Marc Griffin that curled up and over the wall past a helpless Greg Murray.
Eight years on Griffin still remembers that goal vividly.
“I actually have the picture of the free kick sitting on my fridge,” he laughed when speaking to The Argus this week.
“I was lucky enough to score some good goals for the club but that free kick was definitely one of my favourites because it was such a big goal getting us to the Cup semi-final.
“I think a few of us were missing for the game against Pat’s in the semi-final so we didn’t really get a real crack at it. I think it was 3-0 in the end as far as I remember but to beat Bohs was a nice lift at that time because that was when we were struggling and things weren’t great at the club.
“Wardy (Keith Ward) had just signed back for them. They had Pico Lopes and Aaron O’Callaghan was in charge and had them playing nice football. We were definite underdogs at that time so it was a great win. We weren’t expected to get anything out of it so it was great to get the result.”
Griffin, a title winner with Dundalk in 2014, would go on to play for Bohs the following year under Keith Long in 2015 and he has great memories of his time at Dalymount.
“That was a proud memory and I have my medals hanging up,” he said of the 2014 campaign in which Dundalk also won the EA Sports Cup.
“I’ll never forget that and some of the boys I met are still my best friends to this day so it just tells you everything you need to know about that group.
“I absolutely loved it at Dalymount as well. I love Bohs. After Dundalk, they’d be my second favourite club.
“They’re just a great club from top to bottom. The fans welcome you and can’t do enough for you. Some of the players I met there as well I’m still friends with like Derek Pender, Keith Buckley and Pico. I’d still speak to them regularly.
“They were just implementing a lot of the stuff they’ve been praised for back when I was there and they’re reaping the rewards for that now. I’m happy to see them back up where they belong. Longer has done some job there. His first year was the year I was there but he’s done a great job. He’s had a turnover of players each year but he just seems to get better ones in.”
While the side of 2012 defied expectations to reach what was the club’s first semi-final since winning the competition a decade earlier, the current side has arguably underperformed at times this season. Griffin though has backed Filippo Giovagnoli’s side to come good on Friday night as they bid to reach what would be a sixth consecutive Cup final.
“We live in a town that’s quite fickle and people forget where we came from. The fans can be disastrous at times but the things the boys have done for themselves and the club is monumental.
“They’re winning trophies every year and made the group stages of the Europa League twice now. A lot of them have big accolades to their name too. Like Pat Hoban would be a good friend of mine and he’s Dundalk’s all-time top scorer. That is some achievement.
“It’ll be a tough game because Bohs are good this year and Dundalk have been a bit indifferent. Dundalk will miss Pat Hoban as well if he’s out but I’ve full faith in the boys.
“I think they know this year that they’ll have to push for a trophy. It has been a tough year and the season being broke up the way that it was didn’t help Dundalk. I love both clubs but I think Dundalk will do it on Friday.”
Griffin, who has most recently been lining out for local side Muirhevnamor, is hopeful that a move to play in New York can still come off having been postponed due to Covid-19.
“I’m 30 next year so I don’t know if the contract will still be sitting waiting for me.
“I might still have a chance to go for the second half of the season in February so I’m just keeping my fingers crossed.”
He’ll also have them crossed that someone in a white shirt can repeat his feat from 2012 and book Dundalk’s place in the last four.