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No fear of fitter Linfield -- Foster

DUNDALK revive one of the great rivalries of the game in Ireland when they take on Linfield on the opening night of the Setanta Sports Cup tonight.

And Linfield believe that the drop-off of full-time football in the Republic will give Irish League clubs a better chance in the competition. Linfield won the inaugural Setanta Cup in 2005 but League of Ireland teams have won it every year since then, Bohemians the current holders.

"It's no longer a case of full-time v part-time. All of a sudden it's a more level playing field. In the past Irish League clubs have felt at a disadvantage but not any more," said Linfield veteran Pete Thompson as the Blues welcome Dundalk to Oriel Park, a repeat of the classic -- and controversial -- European Cup tie between the clubs in 1979.

Dundalk boss Ian Foster is already aware of the fitness gap. "Linfield are going to be fitter than us and they're going to be stronger than us in certain aspects of the game. But we're always confident. I have always got belief in my players. We just need to keep things tight early," he said.

"They're going to start quickly, as you would expect them to do because they're the home team."

SHAMROCK Rovers' new signing Dean Kelly may have to begin the new season with a suspension as he was sent off in a pre-season friendly last night. Rovers finished their 0-0 draw at home to Monaghan United with only nine men as forward Kelly - a close season signing from Oldham Athletic - and trialist Conor McCormack were both shown red cards.

Jamaican imports Ryan Thompson and Akeem Priestly started for Rovers along with former Bohemians players Ken Oman and Anto Murphy, while Monaghan are giving a trial to experienced winger Bobby Ryan.