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Sheppard: 'This team is special and respect is needed'

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REBEL ARMY: Karl Sheppard (c) and his Cork City team-mates aim to retain the FAI Cup against Dundalk on Sunday. Photo: SPORTSFILE

REBEL ARMY: Karl Sheppard (c) and his Cork City team-mates aim to retain the FAI Cup against Dundalk on Sunday. Photo: SPORTSFILE

REBEL ARMY: Karl Sheppard (c) and his Cork City team-mates aim to retain the FAI Cup against Dundalk on Sunday. Photo: SPORTSFILE

It's a common trait of people from the capital, to assume that those from Cork have a dim view of what goes on Up In Dublin.

Striker Karl Sheppard is a man caught in between. Born and raised in Dublin and a man who won three trophies in his two spells with Shamrock Rovers, he's been an adopted son of Cork for three years now.

And he feels strongly, very strongly, that the men from Munster have not been given the respect they deserve for what's been achieved by a Cork City side which won the double last season and is aiming for a third straight FAI Cup success on Sunday.

"Our focus now is on the three in a row. Not many teams have won three in a row and we'd like to be that team. It's added motivation for us this week," Sheppard told The Herald.

"People don't give us the respect we feel we deserve but they are quick to give it to Dundalk, they rightly get the credit that comes their way as they have been successful.

"But at the same time, we have won a league off them, we have beaten them in the Cup final twice and if we can make it three in a row, people might start to realise that this Cork team is a bit special, considering what we have done so I hope we can go on and do it," added Sheppard, still irked by comments from Bohemians about Cork's style of play when they clashed in the semi-final.

"We just use it for motivation. We heard stuff from the Bohs camp around the time of the semi-final, that we were 'agricultural' and that we just hoof the ball.

"We have been over 100 points ahead of them in the league over the last few seasons, so a bit of respect is needed at times.

"We use it as a positive for us, it motivates us, on Sunday we will respect Dundalk and they will respect us, you have that respect on the pitch between the two teams as we know what qualities we have and so do they."

There have been moans about Cork and Dundalk meeting yet again in the final, but not from Sheppard.

"People can give out about the fact that it's the same two teams again but people should want to see the best teams and we have been the best two teams over the last five years," he says.

"If it was Real Madrid and Barca in the Spanish Cup final every year I don't think people would complain. I can't understand why people would not want to see the two best teams play in the final on that big stage."

For his part, Sheppard hopes that the lead in to the 2018 Cup final is, ahem, quieter than the build-up to last season's decider.

In a media briefing before the final, Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny confirmed that Cork player Sheppard had agreed a move to Oriel Park and would become a Dundalk player after the final.

The deal was known about in football circles but Kenny's decision to confirm it, on the record, sparked a mini-crisis. The outcome was that Sheppard played for Cork as they beat Dundalk and then signed a new contract with City, the Cork camp most unhappy that Kenny had gone public.

"Last year was a bit hectic, the final was a very strange game to go into anyway as we had won the league but we were still getting a bit of stick, which was crazy, and I had my own stuff going on as well," says Sheppard now.

"But it's more settled this year and hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves on Sunday and lift the Cup again."


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