Cook hoping red-letter day at Aviva ends on high note
IT has been a weekend of celebration for followers of Sligo Rovers after a fully merited success at Dalymount Park gave the Bit O'Red the chance to relieve a pain that has existed for the past 11 months.
Last November's FAI Cup final loss to Sporting Fingal in Tallaght still haunts manager Paul Cook and the survivors from that debacle that remain in the dressing room.
After producing a complete display to end Bohemians' double dreams on Friday night, the affable Scouser acknowledged that his men are being driven on by what went before.
"I don't think people realise the hurt of Tallaght last year," he said, "It's still there.
"To bounce back and get to the final means so much. People say winning the EA Sports Cup makes up for it, and some things can make up for it, but to lift the FAI Cup will make up for it, that's for sure.
"Now we'll be walking out at the Aviva stadium on the day with all our families there. You could retire happy if you win the cup there," he added.
But there is more to come from this Sligo side on the evidence of their Phibsborough performance. Gypsies boss Pat Fenlon had no complaints about the outcome, and was puzzled by the manner in which his title chasers performed.
"They looked as if they wanted it more," he said.
"There is no other way around it. Desire wins matches and they had the desire and we did not. Some nights you might get away with two or three off their game, but we had seven or eight."
Goalscorer Gavin Peers has particular reason to relish the trip to Lansdowne Road. He was part of the Airtricity League XI that opened the stadium back in August, but suffered a nightmare experience in gifting the first goal at the venue to Manchester United.
"I get stick off the fans all the time," he admitted. "I'll never make that mistake again hopefully. I've learned from it."
Meanwhile, the race for automatic promotion from the First Division is set to go right down to the wire after Derry City hammered Salthill Devon on Saturday night, drawing them level on points with Monaghan United at the summit.
The Mons missed the chance to put themselves in the driving seat on Friday night when they were held to a draw at home to Limerick.
The battle for the only automatic promotion spot is now almost certain to be decided by an enthralling clash on the final day of the season, when Stephen Kenny's Candystripes travel to Gortakeegan to face their Ulster counterparts.