Sheriff shooting for the stars as they take on Shamrock Rovers
Upset may be unlikely but Junior Cup holders head to Tallaght looking to enjoy big night against country’s “best club”
Shamrock Rovers manager Trevor Croly: His side has endured a disappointing league campaign to date. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
On the face of it the record generally of non-league clubs in the Ford-sponsored FAI cup over the last few years suggests that Shamrock Rovers have nothing really to worry about when Sheriff YC travel across the city this evening to Tallaght.
After three straight defeats, though, and against a side that swept all before them last year, there is always just the slimmest of chances that a somewhat disappointing season might suddenly be transformed into disastrous one.
In reality, though, the significance of the game should boil down to how, rather than whether, the 24-times winners beat their visitors.
A 25th FAI Cup success, which would be the club’s first in 26 years, might serve as a consolation to fans deflated by the team’s failure to mount more of a title challenge.
Trevor Croly said during the week he was primarily interested in getting the team winning consistently, regardless of the competition.
Sheriff boss Alan Reilly said: “I think they’re the best team in the country. They have the best group of players and he’s a really good manager so it will be difficult. But we’ll go over there to play our game . . .we’ll try to go out there and play a bit and enjoy the occasion.”
With his players only having had two weeks off after a campaign in which they won five trophies, including the Junior Cup, Reilly, who played against Croly a few times during his own league career, effectively opted to scrap pre-season in favour of tournaments so as to get his players involved in games again.
Most recently they beat Intermediate Cup champions Avondale United 3-2 down in Cork and won their opening league fixture of the new season 3-1 so they are in better shape than some of their fellow non-leaguers as they head into what Reilly describes as “probably the biggest night in the club’s history”.
Stephen Kenny, manager of in-form Dundalk, insists there no sense of tonight’s visit by Limerick being a distraction.
Kenny must cope without Keith Ward and, most likely, John Mountney (cruciate and ankle respectively) although Tiaran Mulvenna is back after a one match ban.
League leaders St Pat’s have John Russell back from suspension and Shane McFaul from a groin injury but Philly Hughes is cup-tied.