Paul Cook is relishing the prospect of renewing rivalries with Bohemians at Dalymount Park tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).
Pompey kicked off their pre-season tour of Ireland on Wednesday with a 3-3 draw with against the Blues boss’ former club Sligo Rovers.
Cook said: ‘I’m delighted to be back in Ireland. I’ve very fond memories of my time in the league, so it was always our intention to come back over.
‘It was a great time to be in the League of Ireland.
‘It was extremely competitive with some great managers in Stephen Kenny, Michael O’Neill and Pat Fenlon.
‘We really enjoyed the game in Sligo on Wednesday. It was great to see old friends and faces, and I’m sure it will be the same against Bohemians.’
During five years in charge of Rovers, Cook enjoyed many memorable battles with the Gypsies.
In 2009, Bohs’ 3-1 victory over Cook’s Bit O’Red all but secured a second league title in a row for Pat Fenlon’s team.
But in the FAI Cup, it was Cook who enjoyed the bragging rights.
His side dumped Bohemians out of the competition three years running - first in the quarter-finals in 2009 and then at the semi-final stage in 2010 and 2011 on their way to winning the trophy two years in a row.
‘They were great battles with a bit of edge – two of those went to replays,’ said Cook.
‘We’re really looking forward to Bohemians now.
‘It’ll be great to get back to Dalymount. Bohs always gave us a tough game so I expect nothing less tomorrow.’
When Cook left Ireland in 2012 to take charge of Accrington Stanley, both Bohemians and Dalymount Park faced uncertain futures as the reality of the club’s crippling debts hit home.
But Dublin City Council’s decision last year to purchase Dalymount Park with the intention of redeveloping the stadium means things are looking up again.
Cook added: ‘I know it’s been a tough few years for everyone at Bohs. I was delighted to hear that both the club and Dalymount had been saved.
‘When you look back at the games that have been played at Dalymount over the years, it’s a ground steeped in history.
‘It would have been a huge loss to football had it gone.
‘It’s a credit to the fans and everyone at the club that it’s been saved and hopefully the community will get behind them now.’
Tickets for tomorrow’s friendly are priced at €10 for adults and €5 for concession/students/children.
They can be purchased from tickets.ie or at the turnstiles tomorrow.