The trip to the Aviva Stadium for the FAI Cup final has become almost an annual day out for Dundalk supporters but it will be a little different this Sunday.

While the town has got used to emptying each November for the journey to Lansdowne Road, there will be no fans in attendance this year.

While lockdown restrictions around Covid-19 are easing this week, they won’t be lifting to such an extent that any fans can make Sunday’s game with Shamrock Rovers.

This was confirmed by club Chief Operating Officer Martin Connolly within minutes of the final whistle in Athlone on Sunday.

“I’ve been onto the FAI already and it won’t change because of the Government guidelines,” he said.

“It’s even disappointing that I’m arguing with them already over the number of club officials we’ll have in the ground. That has started already and it’s not encouraging but we’ll wait and see on it.”

Connolly said it was a tremendous achievement for the the club to have reached a record equaling six finals in-a-row and called on fans to paint the town black and white this week in support of the team.

“It’s an outstanding achievement by any account to get to six finals in-a-row,” he said.

“It’s an amazing record to have and we’re very proud to have it. It’s encouraging for the whole club and hopefully for the town as well in what has been a kind of strange season. The only disappointment that I feel now is that unfortunately, yet again, we’ll have no supporters in the ground.

“Hopefully it gives the supporters and the town a wee lift though. We’d encourage the supporters who always paint the town black and white to do it again and get behind us next Sunday even though unfortunately they’ll have to watch it on the TV.

“Everyone in the town and everyone in the country has had a difficult year so if we can bring some cheer back into their lives by bringing the Cup home then it would be great.

“I know that the players are very determined to put in a performance. Even though it was a wee bit one-sided, I felt sorry for Athlone because I know the players were determined to put in a performance like that and I think that was coming to somebody. It would be great now if we could go one step further and take the Cup home next Sunday.”

Connolly also had some good news for fans with the new club shop set to open on his birthday this Friday at the North Link Retail Park.

“There’s a lot of things happening on Friday. It’s my birthday and I’ll be flying home from Norway to go to the shop opening.

“We’ll have a whole new range of merchandise and it will be a nice way to start the weekend,” he said.