Preview: Rovers v Dundalk

Sligo Rovers face Dundalk in front of a sold out Showgrounds on Sunday, kick-off 5pm.

In team news, Dante Leverock is suspended but Rovers have an otherwise complete squad with Johnny Dunleavy returning from a foot problem.

In an interview ahead of the FAI Cup semi-final, Liam Buckley said on the following subjects:

On his side now believing they can win games regularly: “I just like winning. I like the thoughts of winning. I like that everyone now is thinking ‘can we win?’ in big games. It is that expectation that I want in the dressing-room. That drives you on. You need to be organised, driven, fit, supporting each other, all of that dynamic. If you get that you’ll have a great chance of winning stuff.

“It is nice to have this important game and all that comes with it. It is just another game in the season from our point of view. It’s an important one, don’t get me wrong. It would get us to the Aviva which would mean so much to so many people at our football club. Hopefully we get that bit of luck and get through.”

Can you beat Dundalk: “We will have our game plan, it’s a one-off game. We can’t afford to think this is something where it can be easy at any point over 90 minutes. We have to limit them. They will get chances, no doubt about that. We have to play to get chances because it will only happen by design. You will see improvement in us in the future because of the work we have done this year and you’ll see it for the rest of this season and next season. We will be better for some of the stuff we have worked on.  They are a top team, they retained their players this year and brought in one or two to strengthen up and I’m sure they’ll do the same next year. They are at a slightly different level to where we are at, along with Shamrock Rovers as well. Those two clubs would have greater resources. That said, we’ll have XI out on the night and if our players are organised collectively and driven, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”

“We are going to have to put in a shift but we have to believe we are going to do it. I do believe we will do it and we have to have a mentality across the board to say ‘let’s get at it’. Dundalk have 23 or 24 players, they could put out two teams where either team would be in the top three here, if not winning it. That is where they are at. The Cup is on the day. You need bit of luck which I’ve had myself over the years. Hopefully we get it on the day.”

On what it would mean (question relates to beating Sligo in the Cup as a player and manager!): “I would be the happiest man in Sligo on Sunday if we win because I know the consequence of it is an opportunity in a final. There is a lot at stake. That said, I do see improvement in the group. They are settled, they have a good dynamic and it’s a help going forward for sure.”

On over 4,000 present: “It’s great to have that support. You’re playing for 3,500 Sligo Rovers fans here on the day or close to it and it is a big game. I hope it is the first of many to come. We want them behind us, I think they will be behind us because they have done so all season. Dundalk will be used to big occasions.  It’s a 90-minute game. We’ll prepare as best we can, and see where it takes us.”