| 13.8°C Dublin

'Core values to inspire Kenna

AS CAPTAIN of an FAI Cup final side, there's been a bit to do this week for Conor Kenna.

Media commitments and a photo shoot, chats with the board and manager, sorting out tickets, making sure all the boxes are ticked. And all the while, Kenna has the burden of history on his shoulders.

Tomorrow at Lansdowne Road could be a very emotional afternoon for the former Coventry City player if the day goes well, as he could become the first Pat's captain in over 50 years to lift the trophy. Alternatively, he could become the seventh Pat's skipper in that time to lead a disappointed side out the exit door on the back of a defeat.

"My dad is from Inchicore, he keeps saying it would be great for an Inchicore family to lift the Cup for Pat's at Lansdowne Road. I can't let stuff like that get into my head, if it's meant to be it will happen," Kenna told the Evening Herald.

"My dad was a Pat's fan for a long time, he had stopped going but he started going again when I joined the club. The family are from just up the road. He tells me he doesn't remember 1961 and the last time Pat's won it but I know enough people around the area who tell me they were there 51 years ago.

"It's a great occasion for the fans this weekend, they deserve it. We know what it means to them, every player in that dressing room knows how important it is and we hope we can go on and win it.


"I haven't thought at all about what would happen after the game or what I'd have to do if we do win it. If it's meant to be then great, but I don't want to get caught up in things I can't change.

"You try to prepare as normal, there is added pressure but this week I have tried to just go on with life as normal and not let myself get stressed by it all," says Kenna, who is more than aware of the club's hunger for this trophy.

"You hear it all the time, the story about 51 years but for the players it's just another game. It's a great occasion, it's a big day out for Irish football, even bigger as it's in the Aviva.

"Being captain is a bit of an extra responsibility but I just want to go out and play a good game, and I know that if we play our normal game we'll be ok."

It is a factor that a Cup final experience will be a step up for many of the young players in the Pat's side, as lads like Christopher Forrester and Jake Carroll will be playing in the biggest game of their careers.


"It is a step up but I think they can deal with it," says Kenna. "The young lads have done really well this season, they adapted to the league really well and though there's a lot of pressure on them, with all this talk about scouts and English clubs. They are under the spotlight, but they will be fine.

"Christopher is a joy to watch at the moment, I know the Pat's fans just love watching him, you can give him the ball in any area of the pitch and he'll pull something off."

The bookmakers have Pat's down as favourites for the game; even money the odds on a Saints win over 90 minutes, but Kenna has dismissed that talk. "The favourites thing means nothing to me," he says. "You are only as good as your last game and Derry beat us and beat us well in their last league game. They were the better side, so they will look back on that and want more of the same tomorrow.

"On their day, Derry are capable of beating anyone so we have to be very wary of them.

"They have threats all over the place, with lads like (Rory) Patterson, (David) McDaid and (Stephen) McLaughlin in the side they can get goals from anywhere, they are a good attacking side, on their day and with everyone fit they are a very strong side but I can't worry too much about them, we'll focus on our own game."