Athlone native Robbie Benson looks set to make his first FAI Cup final appearance this Sunday when Dundalk take on Cork City at the Aviva Stadium.
The 25-year-old midfielder missed out on last year’s decider between the two sides after he picked up a hamstring injury in Dundalk’s final league game of the 2016 season.
“That was tough for me,” Benson told the Irish Daily Mirror recently. “You see the build-up to the (cup final), you’re part of the group and involved in training, staying overnight and going to the ground - but you know you’re not going to be playing. So that was difficult. I wasn’t anywhere near, I did a bit of jogging before the game on my own while the teams were warming up, and that was quite tough.
“It’s the one day of the year as well when domestic football gets the coverage and the build-up, and the game looks well in a nice stadium.”
Last Friday, Benson played the full 90 minutes and set up Patrick McEleney for a superb goal as Dundalk concluded their league campaign with a 4-3 win away to now relegated Galway United.
This weekend he will be looking to add to the league winners’ medal he earned with the Lilywhites last year, and the EA Sports Cup medal he picked up with the club in September of this year.
After starting his League of Ireland career with Athlone Town and then moving to UCD, Benson signed for Dundalk at the end of 2015.
There is speculation that he could soon be on the move to St Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership.
Last week, the Scottish Sun reported that St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright was interested in signing Benson and his Dundalk teammate David McMillan.
It was reported that Benson’s contract with Dundalk will be expiring shortly and that he would therefore, be available on a free transfer in January.
Meanwhile Cork City boss John Caulfield, who is bidding to secure the league and cup double on Sunday, has agreed a new two-year contract with the Leesiders. Caulfield (53) is a native of Lecarrow in South Roscommon.
The Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup final kicks off at 3.30pm on Sunday and is being shown live on RTE Two.