Tuesday 23 January 2018

Dillon focus on setting final record straight for Dundee

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

THE cup final build-up can sometimes be a nightmare for footballers, with the involuntary adoption of a role as ticket agent for family and friends interfering with the preparations. Sean Dillon got off lightly this week, though.

This afternoon, the Dubliner will line out for Dundee United in a fairytale Scottish Cup showdown with Ross County, who belied their First Division status to eliminate Celtic at the penultimate stage.

Alas, some notable members of the Dillon clan will be absent. His father Michael, a sergeant major in the army, is on duty in Chad, while his mother is staying at home with his sister Niamh, who is due to a deliver her first child in the next couple of days.

So, while he managed to sort out his uncle with a couple of tickets yesterday, Dillon has largely been able to relax ahead of a major afternoon in his career.

It's been a mixed season for the 26-year-old, who has only nailed down a regular starting berth in the final months of the campaign. Caretaker manager Peter Houston has steered the team into third spot, and is tipped for the gig on a permanent basis -- he wasn't interested in January, when Dillon's old Shels boss Pat Fenlon had the job only for compensation difficulties with Bohemians to intervene -- and victory this afternoon would strengthen his claims.

For Dillon, who won the FAI Cup twice with Longford, in addition to a League Cup, it is a significant opportunity.

"It would be huge," said the defender, who is set to start at left-back. "I would have to consider this the biggest win so far, if we manage to do it.

"I know we're the favourites, but we haven't been thinking about that side of things too much. It's probably because the club doesn't have that good a record in finals down over the years.

"I was talking to our assistant manager Paul Hegarty and he played in four cup finals and didn't win any of them. And I spoke to Dave Bowman, an ex-player, and he played in seven cup finals with Dundee United and only won one of them."


The weight of expectation is there, so the Terrors camp have been trying to keep it low-key in the preliminaries.

It's relatively unusual for them to stay overnight before a game, as the distances between venues in Scotland are so short that day trips are manageable unless there's an early kick-off involved.

After making the coach trip to Glasgow after training, the remainder of yesterday was about resting in the hotel and, later, a team meal before a meeting to discuss the game.

"The buzz is there, though," said Dillon. "All week, we've noticed extra people around the place, just buying stuff in the shop and looking forward to the occasion.

"We know what we have to do. If we're at 100pc, then we know that it should be enough but we can't drop below that level. If you give it 100pc and miss out, there's not much you can do.

"It's been a decent enough season for me, but it's been frustrating at times. I haven't started as many games as I'd have liked, and I spent a bit of time coming on as sub on the left or right or even in midfield.

"But you forget about that once you play a couple of games, and this would be a nice way to finish it off."

Houston has Mihael Kovacevic and Danny Cadamarteri available for the final after recovering from injury, but Paul Dixon and Darren Dods are still out.

Ross County boss Derek Adams expects to have a full squad, with Richard Brittain and Alex Keddie both back from suspension.

Goalkeeper Michael McGovern should also return after missing County's final First Division game of the season with a minor knock.

Dundee United v Ross County,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 3.0

Irish Independent

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