Sporting Limerick caught up with Pike’s key central midfielder Steven McGann ahead of Saturday’s FAI Junior Cup final between Pike Rovers and North End at the Aviva Stadium (2pm).
The midfielder has been instrumental during his side’s journey to their second final in three years. Obviously, the former Limerick FC man is hoping for a different outcome to the defeat to Sheriff YC in 2016 and has praised the preparation which sees the squad travel on the day before the game.
“No it doesn’t (get much bigger than the FAI Cup final). Since the semi final win the time has passed quickly. We are travelling up on Friday so we are preparing properly this time. Two years ago, we went up on the bus that day and there were a few tired legs and hopefully now something will change this time for us.”
The robust midfielder has been at the club for three seasons and admits that he and his teammates were overawed in 2016 when they arrived at the stadium but hopes that the experience gained will teach them to concentrate on the match and not the occasion.
“The first time we went up for a junior team to go into that stadium and see how big it is was a bit of a shock so hopefully this year we will go up and do a few things differently and we will be able to cope with the occasion a bit better than North End are.”
Pike had to overcome a fancied Newmarket side in a thrilling 3-2 semi-final victory at Crossagalla with Cian Power grabbing an extra-time winner. McGann is hoping that the character shown by the side on several occasions this year will be evident again on Saturday.
“Throughout the season, we have been involved in a lot of games which went down to the wire. We have been able to pull out a result. A few people were saying it was luck but we know ourselves that in the last five minutes we are still able to go. There is only one player involved this year who wasn’t there in 2016 (Pike’s last final appearance). Everyone knows what we have to do. Hopefully in the last few minutes we will be able to push on if it goes the distance and hopefully we will have the team spirit to get through it.”
McGann also praised the influence of manager Mick Shiel who returned in September. The return of the former Limerick FC assistant has re-invigorated the squad which had lost three games on the bounce before his arrival but have since lost just two in eight months.
“It’s some difference from the start of the season to now. Shielo (Mick Shiel) brings that League of Ireland mentality. Training is always intense. He won’t let anything go unless it’s the standard he wants. Its great to have it around the dressing room. Everyone takes it seriously.”
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