The man who opened the scoring against Dundalk when Shamrock Rovers last won the FAI Cup 32 years ago has backed Stephen Bradley’s side to end that drought on Sunday.
Harry Kenny converted from the spot in Dalymount Park back in April 1987 to set Rovers on their way to a comfortable 3-0 win.
Speaking ahead of the return meeting on Sunday, the former Bray Wanderers and St Patrick’s Athletic boss said he was amazed that he remains among the last Rovers players to lift the trophy.
“It’s hard to believe. It really is,” he said.
“In my book they’re still the top club in the country. They’ve the most fans, the best ground, they’re gradually now getting the best players but in saying that you can’t fault what Dundalk have done. It’s similar to us what we did in the 80s but Rovers are now catching up a bit thank God.”
Looking back on 1987, Kenny recalls it being a comfortable win for the Hoops.
“It was a great day for us obviously,” he said.
“I remember it was early enough in the game the penalty. I’m not too sure of the minute but I heard later on that Keely asked who was taking the penalty on the bench and when he was told it was me he said ‘ah he’ll miss the f*g thing.’ That’s typical Keely,” laughed Harry.
“The only worry I had about taking the penalty was that Alan O’Neill was in goal and he was ex-Rovers. I had played with Alan for a few years so it was a bit psychological but I stuck to my guns. I always put them to the keeper’s right and it worked for me on that day.
“It was a great day. We had a great team in them days. We won handy enough after that and could have beat them by more. Had we scored soon after the penalty we’d have really hammered them.”
Harry remains a Rovers supporter and he says the excitement building around Tallaght for it is amazing.
“When I was playing you were always hearing about the Cup runs in the 60s when they won six in-a-row. You were always badgered about that. They have a fantastic tradition in the Cup but it hasn’t really continued now. 32 years is such a long time so I’d say the Rovers crowd can’t wait for the final now this year.
“I’m hoping Rovers win it but it’s very hard to predict. You just have to think about Dundalk’s consistency week in, week out. They were 31 games unbeaten but on a one-off game and with the bit of flair that Rovers have I think they might sneak it. Maybe through a bit of imagination from Jack Byrne or Graham Burke or someone like that but it’s so difficult to call that I wouldn’t put my house on it at all. Dundalk’s back four is very good and they don’t give much away.
“Dundalk have a bigger and better squad but I’m not so sure that they have a better 11. Most games are won and lost in the middle of the pitch so if Jack Byrne can produce he could be a match winner but on the flip side of that you’ve Hoban there who is always dangerous and can always get a goal for you. I do think it’ll be won or lost in the middle of the pitch. Can Shieldsy put a stamp on it like he has done all season or will the flair lads of Rovers over run them in the middle of the pitch? It’s a tricky call.”