Both Regional United and Aisling Annacotty will find out their opponents in the FAI Junior Cup quarter-final tomorrow (Tuesday) as the draw is made in Dublin. There are seven teams confirmed to be in the quarter final while Peake Villa host Westport this weekend in the final last 16 game.
The clear favourites for the competition will be Dublin AUL side Sheriff YC who won three in a row from 2015-2017. Also, the side from the capital knocked out much fancied Pike Rovers in the last 32 in a penalty shoot-out despite being down to ten men for 70 minutes of the match. Manager Mark Quigley is a very experienced player at League of Ireland level having won the league with Sligo and also spent much of his career with St. Patrick’s Athletic.
Quigley has a wealth of experience at his disposal this season including captain Paul Murphy who receives plaudits from both Sheriff and opposition supporters on a regular basis. Many question how Murphy has never made the step up to the Airtricity League. Murphy recently played for the Irish Amateur side in their defeat against the home based Ireland u-21 side in Stephen Kenny’s first game in charge.
Also, midfielder John Lester manages to run the show from central midfield and is a key player. Only the die hard Limerick FC supporters will remember Lester’s season on Shannonside under Noel O’Connor in 2006. Lester does not appear to be the fittest player in appearance but his reading of the game allows the midfielder an extra second on the ball even in the tightest of spots. Former St. Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers player Anto Flood spearheads the YC attack and scored both goals in the last round against Gorey Rangers.
However, seasoned veterans St. Michaels will have a lot to say about the destination of the trophy. Former centre-back James Walsh is the new manager at Cooke Park and the Tipperary side are currently leading the Tipperary and Southern District League with ten wins from 11 and just one defeat. The Saints defeated Mervue of Galway 2-1 in the last 16 with goals from former Carew Park player John Connery and David Slattery. Much like Sheriff before them, Michaels had to play the whole second half with ten men following Connery’s dismissal.
Connery will be suspended for the quarter final but opposite winger Jimmy Carr will prove a real threat and was central to the win over Mervue. His pace and dribbling ability causes all sorts of problems for full backs. The experienced Paul Breen is still martialling the defence alongside recently capped Junior international Sean Guerin at centre-back. Much like Sheriff, their determination to win at all costs will be tough to overcome.
Fellow Tipperary side Clonmel Town are currently third bottom of the premier division in Tipperary and will be the lowest ranked side left in the competition on paper. Winning just four games from 10 league games sees Clonmel just three points above Tipperary Town in the relegation zone. However the Tipperary side defeated second placed Cahir Park 3-1 in the league this week. Town had a great victory over renowned Dublin junior side Crumlin 3-4 in the last round. Annacotty and Regional may fancy their chances against Clonmel should they be drawn against them.
Kilkenny District League side Evergreen FC secured an impressive 3-1 victory over VEC in the last 16 at their home ground on Kells Road. Lee Delaney scored a brace while Jamie Owens accounted for the other goal. Evergreen reached the final in 2017 under former manager Packie Holden but lost out to Sheriff YC 2-0. The Kilkenny outfit have the pick of the counties best players.
Glengad United are the final confirmed team for tomorrow’s draw and the Donegal outfit will be formidable against anyone at home. They are currently third in the Inishowen League having won seven from eight matches but have five games in hand on the second placed outfit. They will be familiar to Limerick side Gerladines who agonizingly lost out on penalties in Donegal in the last 32 of the competition. It is the Donegal’s men second time reaching the quarter final in five seasons after a 3-1 away win over Crettyard. The long haul to Donegal is a trip which Regional and Aisling may be hoping to avoid.
Peake Villa and Westport have yet to play their last 16 tie and will face off this weekend in Tipperary. The draw is set to take place at approximately 4.30 tomorrow.