Michael D. Higgins launches the President's Cup

The game will take place on Friday night in Turner's Cross

Michael D. Higgins launches the President's Cup

President Michael D. Higgins, John Caulfield and Stephen Kenny.

Friday night's President's Cup game will be the first time President Michael D. Higgins has not attended the match.

First held in 2014, the match is between the League and FAI Cup winners, with the exception of last year's match between Dundalk and Cork City after Dundalk won the League and Cup double.

President Higgins is currently on a tour of Latin America. After a meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro on Wednesday night, the 75-year-old is in Havana and will not attend Friday's game in Turner's Cross.

Due to him not being able to attend the game, managers and players from both Dundalk and Cork City met the President in Áras an Uachtaráin ahead of the match. Managers Stephen Kenny and John Caulfield, and captains Stephen O'Donnell and John Dunleavy travelled to Phoenix Park for the visit. 

The President, who was once President of Galway United, was delighted to welcome the officials from both sides to Áras an Uachtaráin and wished them luck for the 2017 season. 

The President said: "It is always a very interesting game between Dundalk and Cork City, and I was always look forward to it. 

"Dundalk have defeated Cork City in the league last season and of course, Cork City beat Dundalk in the FAI Cup, and on it goes. They’re two great teams who are playing to a very high standard."

Friday's game is the curtain-raiser to the new league season which begins on February 24th. It is a date the President is looking forward to as he admitted his love for the SSE Airtricity League and urged clubs to continue the connection with their local community.

The President added: "The standard is very high. The league is where I really have a strong feeling."

"When I go to games, whether it’s out in Tallaght, Dalymount or even Galway, I know people from different generations whose families have supported football. 

"I think something must be done to make sure the clubs keep the connection to the local community."