DUNDALK boss Stephen Kenny has refused to play down speculation that Sunday’s FAI Cup final could be Karl Sheppard’s last game for Cork City.
Sheppard, who has been in top form all season for the league champions, has been heavily linked with a switch to the Lilywhites when the season ends. Midfielder Greg Bolger and wing-back Stephen Beattie are other City players who could depart Turner's Cross in the coming weeks, despite their incredible campaign.
Dundalk manager Kenny added some weight to the story when asked to comment about Sheppard at his club’s media day at Oriel Park.
“I don't want to put him in an awkward situation, it's not something I'm going to deny either at this stage, I'm not going to lie to you. That's that."
Tensions are high between the clubs after a video emerged online last weekend of City keeper Mark McNulty signing a song aimed at Dundalk, which Kenny heavily criticised.
Leaving the Louth club's annoyance at the clip aside, they are relishing the rivalry with the Leesiders.
“It's a big club Cork, a big city, so you always think Cork would be up there, you'd always think they would be right up there. I've had rivalry with Cork previously in previous years so it's all part of it, they're a big club but so are we. There's always rivalry between us and I've no problem with that, no problem at all.”
The big plus for Kenny is that club captain and ex-Cork City player Stephen O’Donnell is fit and well.
“Players relish the rivalry between us. It’s a challenge for us. We had the upper hand, winning the league here in 2014, that big epic finale; then winning the double in 2015, last year winning the big game here at Oriel to win the league with Daryl Horgan’s two brilliant goals.
“This year has been different. Cork have taken seven from nine points in the three games. They beat us in the President’s Cup final at the start of the season as well. We haven’t beaten Cork this year so it’s a big challenge for us to go to the final and try to win the game,” he said.