PHOENIX boss Marc Kenny believes his side are more enthusiastic than ever ahead of their FAI Senior Cup game with Dundalk at 7.45pm in Oriel Park on Friday night.
As a Shamrock Rovers, Dublin City and Monaghan United player, he knows from his own experience that League of Ireland sides can look past the challenge of the league teams when it comes to the cup.
“I can remember being at Rovers and we had to travel to Athlone,” said the Phoenix manager. “We went down and we really weren’t that focused on the game; we thought the result was a given and we went out of the cup that night for our troubles.”
Since taking over the Navan Road club from his older brother Harry earlier in 2013, Kenny believes his team’s form suffered on account of them having nothing to fight for.
After going out of the FAI Intermediate Cup and with their league status relatively safe, the results just stopped coming for Phoenix.
“The fact that I had coached the lads for a long time made the managerial transition very easy for me and the players but, to be honest, a lot of the players lost their enthusiasm when we went out of the inter cup,” said Kenny.
However, with the looming FAI Senior Cup, Kenny has noticed a complete change in attitude among his players with everyone fighting for their place against Dundalk, which is sure to be an experience they won’t forget when they travel to the Wee County this weekend.
“This game has completely changed everything. Everyone one is at training and giving it 110% at the sessions, there’s genuine competition in the team.
“The lads all put in a serious shift against Bohemians last weekend where they won 2-1 in a friendly game.
“We’ve got no real injury concerns apart from Keith Dawson and Glen Campbell who are still out with long-term injuries, but we’ve got John Brophy back who had been missing for a few games.
“The mood is good in the squad, but we’re under no illusions as to the challenge that we’re facing this weekend.
“To win we’re going to need all 11 players on the pitch and we’re going to have to be very strict with the type of football we play.
“I’d like to think we’re known as a ball playing team. We like to keep the ball on the ground and we can be very creative.
“But, if we lose the ball in bad places, there’s no doubt about it, Dundalk are going to make us pay so we have to be very careful.”