Rhys McCabe has felt the full force of a rammed Showgrounds and he believes it could give Sligo Rovers the crucial edge they need to dump treble-chasing Dundalk out of the FAI Cup. 

The newly crowned Premier Division champions travel north west on Sunday evening for a mouthwatering semi-final as they aim to the league and EA Sports Cup titles they've already slotted into the trophy cabinet.

St Pat's midfielder McCabe spent a year at Sligo before moving to Inchicore last January. He knows what it's like playing for - and against - a highly charged and partisan crowd.  

"Sligo are one of the only teams to beat Dundalk this season," McCabe told RTÉ Sport at at the FIFA 20 League of Ireland Cover Launch. "It's a semi-final, a one-off game. Anything can happen. 

"Are Dundalk in that kind of mindset where they've just won the league and they take their foot off the gas a little bit? Who knows? You'd think Dundalk, with the squad depth they have, will win that game but it's 50-50.

"We'd be having a different conversation if it was Dundalk who were at home on their artificial pitch. But up in Sligo, where it's sold out, the fans are close to the pitch, it can be an intimidating place when the fans get behind you.

"They'll make it a hostile atmosphere. They'll be looking for any slight edge they can get. It'll be interesting. If you're asking for my honest opinion, it wouldn't be my first choice place to go and play a semi-final. Away at Sligo... it might give them that 12th man. We'll wait and see."

 Rhys McCabe at the FIFA20 League of Ireland Cover Launch in the Aviva Stadium

McCabe talked up the positive impact Stephen O'Donnell has had at Richmond Park since he took over from Harry Kenny.

O'Donnell has energised the Saints in the short time he's been at the helm, with McCabe in particular feeling the benefit of his arrival.

"He's been good for me personally," he said.

"It's given me a new lease of life that maybe I needed. He still needs time to implement his style and his coaching techniques and stuff. It's so far so good.

"He's only recently out of the game which I think is a big bonus. He understands the way football is at the moment. He's very hands on. He gets involved and communicates during his coaching sessions.

"We've still got that carrot dangling there of European football. We've not lived up to the standards we set ourselves this season but we've still got that goal of getting European football. There's positives to take."

McCabe also paid tribute to Kenny, the man who signed him last winter. His reign started with so much optimism. Ultimately inconsistency cost him, and cost Pat's a run at breaking into the top two. 

"You couldn't say a bad word about him," the Scot said of Kenny.

"He was a good man manager, he always made time to speak to everyone. I think everyone in the dressing room, including the staff, liked Harry.

"You don't like to see anyone lose their job but when it happens to such a nice guy it's harder to take. 

"When you go back to pre-season and look at the squad we'd assembled there was real hype. We've not lived up to that. It's hard to put your finger on it but ultimately it's not been good enough. Some of the performances - especially against the top-end teams - have been really good this season but that consistency hasn't been there. 

"You don't see Dundalk dropping silly points. They're a well-oiled machine."

Follow Bohemians v Shamrock Rovers (7.45pm Friday) and Sligo Rovers v Dundalk (5pm Sunday) with our FAI Cup semi-final live blogs on RTÉ Sport Online and the RTÉ News Now App, watch live on RTÉ2 and listen live on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra