Champions Cup is 'a great initiative' - Shields

Bastien Hery and Chris Shields
The Champions Cup is the first cross-border trophy since the Setanta Cup, which ran between 2005 and 2014

Chris Shields says Dundalk are determined to claim the inaugural Unite the Union Champions Cup.

Irish Premiership champions Linfield will host the first leg at Windsor Park on Friday, with the second leg being played at Oriel Park on Monday.

The Lilywhites won the league and EA Sports Cup as they secured a domestic double.

"I think it's a great initiative to bring something back like this," said midfielder Shields.

"It's great to see a return of the cross-border competition. I was always a big fan of the Setanta Sports Cup and the players love to play in it," said Shields.

"It's a great added rivalry to see who comes out top from both leagues."

The cross-border trophy takes place in the shadow of a renewed push for an all-island league from Irish businessman Kieran Lucid.

The Irish Football Association had said it would not sanction any of its member clubs to take part in the proposed league.

Despite the interest surrounding Lucid's proposals, Shields says Dundalk's focus is on overcoming Linfield in the two-legged tie.

"I can only speak from our dressing room but our lads are really looking forward to it and it's definitely captured the supporters' imagination as well," added the 28-year-old.

"I'm sure we'll be well backed heading up to Belfast and it gives us the chance to lift the trophy in our own ground as well, with the second leg back at Oriel.

"Linfield have done really well over the past year and I was up there when they beat Qarabag in the Europa League.

"They were brilliant that night and they did something we couldn't do so it's going to be a really tough game."