Between them Dundalk FC and Shamrock Rovers have won 35 FAI Cups and competed in a further 16 finals.
However of those 51 finals, the two most successful teams in the competition’s 97 year history have met in just three finals prior to this Sunday with Rovers edging the head-to-head 2-1.
The first of the finals between the pair came way back in 1931. Dundalk looked on course for victory after a fifth FAI Cup goal of the season from Gerry McCourt had put them ahead but a controversial equaliser from Paddy Moore forced a replay which the Hoops went on to win 1-0, again in controversial circumstances through Moore, who admitted to Joey Donnelly afterwards that he had punched in the winner.
Ominously like this year Dundalk had beaten Rovers three times – twice in the league and once in the Shield – and drawn twice in their five meetings that season heading into the final, which had 20,000 in attendance for the initial game and 10,000 for the replay.
Dundalk would exact their revenge in 1958 when 18-year-old Hughie Gannon scored the game’s only goal with a header on 62 minutes to clinch a 1-0 win in front of 27,000 people. It was a costly goal for Gannon who suffered a broken cheekbone in the incident while Rovers were left to rue a missed penalty after that when Liam Hennessy fired wide.
Shay Noonan was the Dundalk captain on the day with goal hero Gannon missing the celebrations after being taken to hospital when he started to spit up blood in the dressing room.
The Dundalk team that year went through the entire Cup campaign without conceding a goal.
The most recent meeting of the sides in an FAI Cup final proved to be Rovers’ last success in the competition back in April 1987.
It proved to be a comfortable 3-0 win for Rovers in a game marred by violence at Dalymount Park. Rovers won comfortably for what was their 24th FAI Cup success but the headline the next day was not about the game but rather it read: “Batons drawn at Dalymount”. In its aftermath 11 people were charged with breach of the peace offences while 14 people received hospital treatment for minor cuts and bruises.
On the field Rovers took the lead 10 minutes before half-time with Harry Kenny converting from the spot after Joey Malone had upended Barry Murphy. Late goals from Noel Larkin and Mick Byrne completed the rout for their third FAI Cup win in-a-row.
Little did anyone think it would be their last for 32 years. That’s a run Dundalk hope to extend this weekend.