This year’s FAI Junior Cup Final, with Aviva and Umbro, is an all-Munster affair as Limerick’s Ballynanty Rovers take on the might St. Michael’s from Tipperary.
St. Michael’s have quite the history in the FAI Junior Cup. Despite not winning the competition since 1974, they have been beaten finalists four times since, including as recently as 2010 and 2011.
The Tipperary side under the stewardship of Jason Purcell, who has tasted FAI Junior Cup success with Limerick’s Fairview Rangers, are on the verge of an historic victory later this month and they are the odds on favourites with the bookmakers to win this Sunday (25th May) at the Aviva Stadium.
The Saints have had an impressive run to the final and been tested to the limit both at the Quarter Final and Semi Final stages. Purcell made a return to the ground his played his schoolboy football, Carew Park in Limerick, to take on last year’s beaten semi finalists. Indeed Carew were several people’s tip for the trophy this year given how close they ran eventual winners Sheriff YC in last year’s semi final. However two Jimmy Carr strikes either side of a Gary Griffin penalty from Carew ensured the Saints marched on.
It would only get tougher for the Tipperary side in the last four as they were drawn out of the hat alongside holders and two-in-a-row winners Sheriff YC. However the Saints did secure home advantage in a game that would be played in Clonmel.
The semi final was a cagey affair with neither side showing their true quality until the 84 minute when a slip in defence gave St. Michael’s full back Brian Buckley the time to look up and spot the Sheriff YC keeper slightly off his line and send a beautifully flighted lob over him to secure their place at the Aviva Stadium.
The Saints will fancy their chances in the Final, but in a two horse race there’s always a chance and Ballynanty will enjoy the underdogs tag. The Limerick side have been very much under the radar on their route to the final. They have been runners up in the competition in 1976 and 1983 but “Balla” have yet to bring home the trophy.
Damian Conway’s troops have already disposed of one former FAI Junior Cup winner in the shape of Waterford’s Carrick United earlier in the competition. The Limerick side took on Dublin’s Liffey Wanderers in the Quarter Finals and beat them with the only goal of the game. The draw gave them home advantage in Jackman Park Limerick for the semi final against Collinstown.
Collinstown went into the game as favourites and despite taking an early lead and threatening to increase it during the first half, Balla hung in there and kept it to one goal at half time. It was the proverbial game of two halves as Balla came back into it as Collinstown tired in the second half and the inevitable equaliser arrived for the home side. With neither team able to find a winner in extra time it was the heroics of Stephen McNamara in the Balla goal with three outstanding saves that secured a place in their first final in 31 years.
Despite St. Michael’s being the odds on favourites with the bookmakers, the “Balla Boys in Blue” will be confident of their chances of securing their first ever FAI Junior Cup trophy.
Damian Conway – Ballynanty Rovers Manager
“Our squad is fairly youthful, so we have a lot of young lads. The pitch is huge but hopefully the lads will have the legs to get around ok on the day. There is a bit of rivalry between the teams alright, especially over the past few years. We would know a lot of the players like Brian (Buckley) and Jason (Purcell) the manager, they both played in Limerick for most of their careers so there is definitely a rivalry there, a sporting one of course!”
Jason Purcell – St. Michael’s Manager
“It’s fantastic for the players to play at the Aviva Stadium and a great achievement. To win an FAI Junior Cup at the Aviva would be something special. The Limerick league is very strong and there are always a few sides from there in the latter stages of the Junior Cup. We’re expecting a tough game and it will be close. We have players that have won FAI Junior Cups before, but for the likes of James (White) and Paul (Breen), they’ve lost four Junior Cup finals and to win it in the Aviva would be very special for them.”
James White – St. Michael’s Captain
“Personally this final is huge but for the club it’s a massive occasion. I’ve been leading this club for most of my life but to run out at the Aviva in a FAI Junior Cup Final will no doubt be the highlight. This is our fourth final in a number of weeks and we’ve been lucky enough to win the last three so we hope to make it all four on Sunday. For any amateur player to come up to the Aviva Stadium on aSunday to play is a dream, we will all go back to our jobs on Monday with those memories. However when the match starts it’s about winning the game and bringing the Cup back to Tipperary.”
FAI Junior Cup Final Video Content
- · Brian Buckley Semi Final winning goal (St. Michael’s v Sheriff YC) -http://bit.ly/1o8YoSk
- · FAI Junior Cup Finalists visit the Aviva Stadiumhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?
- · Aviva’s FAI Junior Cup Final Communities Day with Ray Houghtonhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?
- · FAI Junior Cup Final Preview Video Ballynanty Rovershttp://ow.ly/xbI5D
- · FAI Junior Cup Final Preview Video St. Michael’s http://ow.ly/xbId4
- · Ballynanty FAI Junior Cup Final Song http://audioboo.fm/boos/
Paths to the Final
- · First Round: Kennedy Park 7-2 (E Radcliffe 3, D Dunphy 2, J Bromell, R Earls)
- · Second Round: Charleville 3-1 (A Purcell 2, F Lee)
- · Third Round: Southend 4-0 (S Doran 2, A Purcell, E Radcliffe)
- · Fourth Round: Hill Celtic 4-0 (D Dunphy 2, T Fahy, OG)
- · Fifth Round: Glengoole 1-0 (K Meehan)
- · Sixth Round: Maynooth 1-1 (P) (D Fitzgerald)
- · Seventh Round: Carrick Utd 1-0 (K Meehan)
- · Quarter-Final: Liffey Wand 3-2 (D Dunphy, T Fahy, D O’Hanlon)
- · Semi-Final: Collinstown 1-1 (P) (D Dunphy)
- · First Round: Bye
- · Second Round: Cloughjordan 8-0 (P Quinn 2, R Quirke 2, D Lynch 2, P Breen, S McGrath)
- · Third Round: Peake Villa 3-1 (R Quirke 2, R Ryan)
- · Fourth Round: Barroway Rvs 9-1 (Ryan 2, Quirke, Walsh, Baragary, McGrath, Carr, Higgins, Quinn)
- · Fifth Round: St Paul’s 1-0 (P Breen)
- · Sixth Round: Ballaghadereen 3-0 (P Breen, D Lynch, D Slattery)
- · Seventh Round: Glen Celtic 4-1 (P Breen, P Quinn, J Walsh, D Slattery)
- · Quarter-Final: Carew Park 2-1 (J Carr 2)
- · Semi-Final: Sheriff Utd 1-0 (B Buckley)
FAI Junior Cup Final Highlights Broadcast Times
Friday 30th May @ 7:30pm – Setanta Ireland