Dundalk FC midfielder Chris Shields has opened up for the first time publicly on the hurt of missing out on last month’s FAI Cup final, describing it as his “darkest week in football.”
The 28-year-old missed the penalty shoot-out defeat to Shamrock Rovers at the Aviva Stadium in somewhat controversial circumstances after picking up an eighth booking of the season in a dead rubber game away to Cork City two weeks before the final.
Speaking at last Thursday’s Mental in Health in Sport event in aid of Pieta House in McAlester’s Bar in Bridge Street, Shields revealed the impact missing out on the final had on him, including having to put on a brave face for guests at his daughter’s first birthday party shortly after finding out he would be suspended for a match which was due to be his 300th in Dundalk colours.
As he continues to come to terms with the setback, Shields auctioned off his unworn jersey from the final for €650 on the night. Despite helping Vinny Perth’s side to the inaugural Unite the Union Champions Cup match afterwards, the club’s joint longest serving player insisted it would be next season before he could really put things to bed.
On putting the jersey up for auction, he said: “It is probably the easiest jersey I’ve ever had to auction off. I never want to see the thing again.
“It was hard to let go,” he said of the hurt from missing the Cup final.
“I still find it hard to deal with because we had such a great season. We had three out of three trophies we had played for and we fancied ourselves to beat Linfield over both legs so you have this one-off game in the national stadium to go and become the greatest team ever and then all of a sudden I’m not playing in it because of a clerical error or someone not doing their homework, so it was hard for me to take.”
Shields revealed the phone call a week before the final to inform him he was suspended had coincided with his daughter Evie’s first birthday party that day.
“I got the phone call on the Sunday and it was actually my child’s first birthday. Vinny didn’t know but he rang me that morning and I was out walking and I honestly didn’t know what way to turn.
“I went back to the house like a bull but then had to put on a face for all these guests coming who I didn’t want to see.
“I think the boys will tell you I was a different character on the Monday. I was very quiet and Vinny was almost going to give me the day off because he knew I didn’t want to be there. I said no I’ll come in and face the music. We had lodged an appeal but it all fell on its arse really. I don’t know whether it was ignorance or not from the FAI but they didn’t want to see or hear about it.
“It affected me massively. It was probably my darkest week in football really.”
Shields said had he known a booking in the Cork game could have cost him a cup final place then he would not have played the game.
“For me personally, if I had known a yellow card would lead to that against Cork then I wouldn’t have been on the pitch. If I’d known that would have been the possible outcome in any game then it wouldn’t have happened but, for me, I can’t put it right until the new season really.
“What do you do? Sit at home and fester over what could have been? Me and Fats (Patrick McEleney) watched the game from the stand and you’re analysing everything so you end up thinking that at that point I would have done this and maybe if I was playing that could have happened but it’s not worth talking about really.
“For me, I’m looking forward to this season coming because I have something to put right so maybe a small positive will come out of a negative.”
Questioned further, on who he felt was to blame for the mix-up, Shields said he honestly did not know.
“To be honest, I don’t know what I can tell you. I was in such a blind rage that I pointed the finger at everyone. I pointed the finger at Dundalk, I pointed the finger at the FAI. I didn’t really look for legitimate answers and to be honest it’s probably something I can’t answer. Then again it could be on myself. I should probably know how many yellow cards I was on too.”
A hurtful moment for Shields, of that there is no doubt, but hopefully one that will keep his fire burning that bit more in 2020.

Dundalk FC midfielder Chris Shields has opened up for the first time publicly on the hurt of missing out on last month’s FAI Cup final, describing it as his “darkest week in football.”

The 28-year-old missed the penalty shoot-out defeat to Shamrock Rovers at the Aviva Stadium in somewhat controversial circumstances after picking up an eighth booking of the season in a dead rubber game away to Cork City two weeks before the final.

Speaking at last Thursday’s Mental in Health in Sport event in aid of Pieta House in McAlester’s Bar in Bridge Street, Shields revealed the impact missing out on the final had on him, including having to put on a brave face for guests at his daughter’s first birthday party shortly after finding out he would be suspended for a match which was due to be his 300th in Dundalk colours.

As he continues to come to terms with the setback, Shields auctioned off his unworn jersey from the final for €650 on the night. Despite helping Vinny Perth’s side to the inaugural Unite the Union Champions Cup match afterwards, the club’s joint longest serving player insisted it would be next season before he could really put things to bed.

On putting the jersey up for auction, he said: “It is probably the easiest jersey I’ve ever had to auction off. I never want to see the thing again.

“It was hard to let go,” he said of the hurt from missing the Cup final.

“I still find it hard to deal with because we had such a great season. We had three out of three trophies we had played for and we fancied ourselves to beat Linfield over both legs so you have this one-off game in the national stadium to go and become the greatest team ever and then all of a sudden I’m not playing in it because of a clerical error or someone not doing their homework, so it was hard for me to take.”

Shields revealed the phone call a week before the final to inform him he was suspended had coincided with his daughter Evie’s first birthday party that day.

“I got the phone call on the Sunday and it was actually my child’s first birthday. Vinny didn’t know but he rang me that morning and I was out walking and I honestly didn’t know what way to turn.

“I went back to the house like a bull but then had to put on a face for all these guests coming who I didn’t want to see.
“I think the boys will tell you I was a different character on the Monday. I was very quiet and Vinny was almost going to give me the day off because he knew I didn’t want to be there. I said no I’ll come in and face the music. We had lodged an appeal but it all fell on its arse really. I don’t know whether it was ignorance or not from the FAI but they didn’t want to see or hear about it.

“It affected me massively. It was probably my darkest week in football really.”

Shields said had he known a booking in the Cork game could have cost him a cup final place then he would not have played the game.

“For me personally, if I had known a yellow card would lead to that against Cork then I wouldn’t have been on the pitch. If I’d known that would have been the possible outcome in any game then it wouldn’t have happened but, for me, I can’t put it right until the new season really.

“What do you do? Sit at home and fester over what could have been? Me and Fats (Patrick McEleney) watched the game from the stand and you’re analysing everything so you end up thinking that at that point I would have done this and maybe if I was playing that could have happened but it’s not worth talking about really.

“For me, I’m looking forward to this season coming because I have something to put right so maybe a small positive will come out of a negative.”

Questioned further, on who he felt was to blame for the mix-up, Shields said he honestly did not know.

“To be honest, I don’t know what I can tell you. I was in such a blind rage that I pointed the finger at everyone. I pointed the finger at Dundalk, I pointed the finger at the FAI. I didn’t really look for legitimate answers and to be honest it’s probably something I can’t answer. Then again it could be on myself. I should probably know how many yellow cards I was on too.”

A hurtful moment for Shields, of that there is no doubt, but hopefully one that will keep his fire burning that bit more in 2020.