IB: Let's take the final step
It has been an ambition since joining the club and this Saturday Sligo Rovers manager Ian Baraclough will aim to seal Setanta Sports Cup glory for the Bit o' Red in Tallaght Stadium.
Wins over Crusaders and St Patrick's Athletic have put Rovers into the final for a meeting with Dundalk this weekend.
A first-ever Setanta Cup final is new territory for Rovers and the manager is hoping to take it one step further.
"It's pleasing we have managed to fight our way here. It was frustrating the last couple of years to have been beaten in the semi-finals. Now we're here, a few days away, it's important we go one better and win the thing. I think it'd just be nice to win the first big trophy on offer.
“This is one of the first major competitions for everybody and to win something, it gives the victors a stepping stone and the losers will be disappointed.
“I don't think it has any bearing on your league form goes from here. It's a one-off competition that we have fought hard to get ourselves here, one that we respect, one that we pinpointed at the start of the season that we wanted to do well in and we have a chance.”
Baraclough also sees it as a well-matched game and is looking for his players to rise to the occasion.
He said: “It’s two sets of players that have a hunger and desire to win trophies and games of football. People can say we have experience which we have so hopefully in the build-up it will help. But I think when you get a Cup final, form goes out the window, although you actually have two in-form teams as such.
“Whoever deal with occasion better on the day (will win) so you just hope that your big game players will step up to the fore and drive you to victory.”
Listen to the interview with Rovers manager Ian Baraclough below.
Dundalk lead the SSE Airtricity Premier Division after a fine start to the league season - Baraclough faces off with counterpart Stephen Kenny for a second time this season.
Asked whether he enjoys pitting his wits against Kenny, he said he respects what the Dundalk manager has achieved in the game in Ireland.
“Every coach and manager I've faced here has been a test. Again there is that hunger and desire between managers to get the better of your opposite number.
“I respect what Stephen has done over here. He is a good coach. You can see he has a calm manner about him as well. It's the way I like to work.
“Come the end of the game, we'll shake hands, have a cup of tea together and hopefully it's a good game. I want to go and win it.”
With improved results and performances in the league, Rovers go into the game with a confidence that they can make history by winning the All-Ireland trophy for a first time.
Baraclough added: “We are coming into it on a high. Even the St Pat's game, we only got a point from it but there was some great football played on that evening. It could have gone either way. It was probably a fair result.
“We've built steadily. We've started to put that together and punish teams for not being able to cope with us and hopefully we can bring that game to Tallaght on Saturday.”
Tickets for the Setanta Sports Cup final are on sale in The Showgrounds on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 2:30pm to 5:30pm. Kick-off is 4pm in Tallaght. Prices range from €5 to €15.