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Laois man hoping for FAI Cup final success with Dundalk

Dundalk interim head coach Filippo Giovagnoli and assistant coach Giuseppe Rossi with Shane Keegan

The FAI Cup final will take place in the Aviva Stadium this evening when Shamrock Rovers will look to complete a league and cup double for the first time since 1987.

Having won the league for the first time since 2011, a cup triumph would really round off a fine 2020 for Ireland’s most successful domestic soccer club.

Standing in their way is Dundalk in what will be a repeat of last year’s final with the Louth side keen to claim some silverware in what has been another hectic season.

Rathdowney man Shane Keegan is a key part of their backroom team in his role as Opposition Analyst and has even assumed the head coach position during their Europa League campaign as Italian manager Filippo Giovagnoli doesn’t have his Uefa Pro Licence.

That has seen him take charge in the Emerites Stadium against Arsenal and rubbing shoulders with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

While there will be no crowds in the Aviva this evening for what is the biggest day on the club soccer calendar, it’s a huge occasion for Keegan to be involved in and continues an incredibly busy spell for the club.

Today’s game will be their 32nd fixture in 23 weeks since their season re-started in July. In the last three weeks alone they’ve played Rapid Vienna and Molde in the Europa League and Bohemians and Athlone in the FAI Cup.

They were in Norway as recently as Thursday night for the Molde game and ever after today, they’ll be back in the Aviva next Thursday for their final Europa League game.

For Keegan, whose coaching career started with his native Clover Utd at underage level and has taken in the Kilkenny District League teams, Carlow FC, Wexford Youths and Galway Utd, there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.

“From when I was old enough to understand, I’ve been obsessed,” he said recently when he was a guest on the LaoisToday Talking Sport Podcast.

“From the 1990 World Cup on, there’s little I can’t tell you about the 1990 World Cup or thereafter.

“My mother slags me – she remembers at eight, nine years of age, I’d be in the bath and she’d be outside and she could hear me doing fake interviews with myself.

“This is the notions I had about football management, even from that age!”

“I was always mad into it and very geeky about it.”

The FAI Cup final kicks off this evening at 6.30pm and is live on RTE.

You can listen to Shane’s interview with us on Talking Sport podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify or Podbean or below on Soundcloud.

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