Gary Rogers will be aiming to break yet another record when Dundalk take on Shamrock Rovers in Sunday’s FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium.
A 23rd clean sheet of the season in Friday’s 4-0 win over St Patrick’s Athletic not only equalled Alan O’Neill’s league record of clean sheets – achieved with the Dundalk title winning side of 1990/91 – but it also equalled a club record of most clean sheets in all competitions in a season.
That record of 26 was achieved by Richie Blackmore in 1979/80 but now Rogers can surpass it by keeping out Rovers at the Aviva.
Asked would it be the perfect setting to do so, Rogers said: “Hopefully but we’ve kept a couple of clean sheets in finals and then it went to extra-time and we lost but if we can keep a clean sheet you’d obviously always fancy our boys to get a goal.
“We’ve excellent threats from all over the pitch and they’ve obviously chipped in from everywhere so you’d be hopeful if we can keep it tight at the back then we’d be confident of getting a goal.”
The 38-year-old, who recently signed a new one-year deal at the club, said O’Neill’s record was something he had in mind for a number of years.
“I met Alan at the Soccer Writers’ dinner dance about three or four years ago after my first season at Dundalk and he told me that that was his record and he said you’ll do well to beat it. Obviously I haven’t beaten it but it’s great to be alongside Alan and hold that record jointly. It’s a nice one to have.
“It’s obviously good to have so many clean sheets and it’s something that as a defence we really focus on. We’ve only conceded 18 league goals in total this season. That’s a figure that we’ll be trying to beat next year to try and continue to progress. I think we conceded 20 last year and we’ve dropped a couple this year but there are areas where we could have improved on to concede less again but at least there’s plenty to improve upon for next year.”
Before all that there are two pieces of silverware up for grabs with the very real prospect of a treble on the horizon.
“This team has achieved a lot over the last number of years bu a treble is obviously the one thing that we haven’t done so it’s certainly a target to achieve that but we’ve a massive game ahead of us so it’s not an easy task.
“That said, we’re only 90 minutes away from it and that’s where you’d have wanted to be at the start of the season.
“It won’t be easy. Rovers have obviously got plenty of quality in the squad no matter who plays. Jack’s (Byrne) deliveries from set plays are obviously very good but they’ve got threats from everywhere. Greener (Aaron Greene) is very quick and he has come into good form and Graham Burke is back in the team as well but like if it was any team, we’ll be as prepared as we can be going into the game. Obviously we’re very familiar with Shamrock Rovers having only played them a couple of weeks ago but a final is a final and it’s about whoever performs on the day so we’ll just be hopeful that all of our boys can play as well as they can,” said Rogers.