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Final is only for winners

Hoare determined to avoid the heartache of Cup defeat

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DATE WITH DESTINY: Sean Hoare wants to cap off a memorable season with victory
over Cork City in Sunday’s FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

DATE WITH DESTINY: Sean Hoare wants to cap off a memorable season with victory over Cork City in Sunday’s FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

DATE WITH DESTINY: Sean Hoare wants to cap off a memorable season with victory over Cork City in Sunday’s FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

It's the loneliest place in football.

And, having endured a spell there 12 months ago, Dundalk defender Sean Hoare has no intentions of being back there: the losing dressing room on FAI Cup final day.

The 2018 campaign has been a particularly good one for the 24-year-old. He has already won a league medal as well as being named on the PFAI Team of the Year, chosen by his fellow players as one of the best defenders in the league.

He can add to his medal tally by landing the FAI Cup, which would be the second of his career, in Sunday's final against Cork City. Hoare was a member of the St Patrick's Athletic team that beat Derry City 2-0 in the 2014 decider.

And it's the contrast in emotions between that win with St Pat's and last year's final loss, in the Dundalk colours, which spurs him on ahead of this Sunday's decider.

"I have played in two finals, won one and lost one, so I know the two sides," says Hoare.

"I don't think there is a better feeling than being in the Aviva having won the Cup. And the Aviva is a lonely place when you lose, you have to suck it up and do what's expected of you in terms of the formalities but all you want to do is get away.

Swallow

"You want the ground to swallow you up but you might have to do media after the game, meet supporters, maybe go to a function somewhere.

"I don't want that feeling that I had last year after Cork beat us in the final. We have only lost three games all year so I think we can be confident," Hoare added.

When St Pat's won the Cup four years ago, it was the club's first success in the competition since way back in 1961.

The outpouring of joy that followed that victory could not have been in starker contrast to the feeling of deflation experienced by everyone associated with Dundalk in the aftermath of last year's final

"You enjoy the Cup final so much when you win it and it was an amazing day with St Pat's as it was so long since the club had won the Cup. As players we knew that, we understood what it meant to people.

"So it was tough to finish on the losing side at the Aviva last year, it was very hard to take, and we have to do all we can to make sure we win it this time.

"It's been a great season for me, I enjoyed the year, winning the league was special and winning the double would cap it off."

The previous three Cork-Dundalk finals have been tight affairs, settled by one goal or on penalties, and Hoare knows it's a tense occasion.

Last year's decider went the way of Cork after a shootout, a victory which secured the league and cup double. It's a role reversal this weekend, with Stephen Kenny's Lilywhites chasing double delight.

"It's about what happens on the day. You would like it to be a great spectacle, but it doesn't happen like that. It's whoever turns up on the day," says Hoare.

"The big thing for us is that we are in good form. It was important that we didn't lose to Bohs last week, we didn't want to be going into the final on the back of a defeat. We weren't great against Bohs early on, we didn't know what we were doing but we upped our game, got a result and we look to Sunday.

"It was vital for us not to lose. I'm glad we had a battle against Bohs to come into this final instead of a relatively easy game like the 5-0 win over Sligo the week before. We will prepare well and be ready for Sunday."


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