ET Bitesize: The Magic of the Leinster Senior Cup

Tue, Aug 30 2016

Credit: Bohemian FC

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If ever there was any doubt that the Leinster Senior Cup is the biggest trophy in Irish football, it was put to bed on Monday night.

 

Barely 72 hours after crushing St Patrick's Athletic at Richmond Park – their first win at Inchicore in six years – Keith Long put out a full-strength side to face Wexford Youths in the final at Dalymount.

 

The home of Irish football has seen many iconic feats – the international debuts of John Giles and Liam Brady, Don Givens' hat-trick against the Soviet Union, Shamrock Rovers v Manchester United in the European Cup, the Garth Brooks tribute festival.

 

Yet it had never witnessed a true feat of sporting history – until Monday night, that is, when Roberto Lopes doubled his goal tally from six years of senior football in the space of an hour.

 

To put that in context, it's like David Quinn articulating a coherent thought, and then having another one within his lifetime. It's just not supposed to happen.

 

Sure, Wexford were without the injured Danny Furlong and Paul Murphy, and Bohs were at home, and Wexford are in a relegation battle and rested a few players, but if the record books contained such nuance nobody would bother reading them.

 

Not footballers anyway but, hey, that's nothing new.

 

But keeping with the theme of things only happening at six year intervals, it was Bohs' first trophy since 2010, when Pat Fenlon guided the Gypsies to the Setanta Sports Cup, a competition so important it doesn't exist anymore.*

 

*The Setanta Sports Cup was largely the baby of former FAI President and Waterford United board member Milo Corcoran, who passed away last week.

 

Anne O'Brien, a pioneer of women's football in Ireland and aunt of St Patrick's Athletic captain Ger O'Brien, passed away at the tragically young age of 60 this week. You can read more about Anne's life in football here.

 

Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of both Anne and Milo.

 

 

Also back to winning ways this week are Limerick, who brought to an end the most pre-scripted saga since the last series of Game of Thrones when they sealed the First Division title in UCD on Sunday.

 

(I've never seen Game of Thrones but I reckon this gag has at least a 50% chance of being true – complaints on a postcard to ETHQ, 1 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles).

 

The Blues did their best to make an even contest of it, drawing with second-placed Drogheda United two weeks ago and bizarrely scheduling a friendly with Oman two days before the decisive game.

 

Not that it mattered to their fans, who celebrated long into the night, although the Limerick players may have to wait to get the kind of reception their fans afforded Dundalk last year.

 

 

***

 

Speaking of Dundalk, a spirited effort away to Legia Warsaw, including the worldie to end all worldies from Robbie Benson, wasn't quite enough to secure a historic Champions League berth for the Lilywhites.

 

And so it's to the Europa League for Dundalk and trips to St Petersburg, Alkmaar and Tel Aviv, where a whole new generation of barmen will confusedly ask one another “who's Richie O'Toole?” or whatever their native tongue's equivalent is.

 

While the long-suffering fans of Manchester United and Roma will have to wait at least another 12 months for a glamour draw to fill their Thursday nights, Dundalk fans have an unforgettable experience ahead of them.

 

For a club that could easily have gone to the wall four years ago, had they not prevailed in a promotion/relegation play-off with Waterford United, it cements a meteoric rise.

 

Given the sad fate that has befallen United in the intervening period, Dundalk's is a story of redemption and renewal that Irish football as a whole badly needs.

 

 

QUIZ TIME

 

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FROM THE ECHO CHAMBER

 

 

IN THE NEWS

 

Dundalk face a tough itinerary if they're to realise Stephen Kenny's ambition of making the knockout stages of the Europa League.

 

The Lilywhites strengthened ahead of their hectic run-in with the addition of Alan Keane and Northern Ireland international Dean Shiels.

 

Record-breaker Robbie Keane announced his retirement from international football after Wednesday's friendly with Oman.

 

Ireland under-18s ran out impressive 3-1 winners over their Hungarian counterparts, with Dundalk's Michael O'Connor grabbing the third goal.

 

Sligo Rovers rewarded striker Raff Cretaro with a contract extension as his hot-streak takes him up to nine league goals for the season.

 

Noel King named four League of Ireland players in his under-21 squad to take on Slovenia and Serbia.

 

 

IN-DEPTH

 

Rovers manager Stephen Bradley raved about 'Rolls Royce' debutant Shane Hanney in an interview with Macdara Ferris.

 

Philip Nolan gave an insight in the mysterious world of the kitman and the kitman's union.

 

 

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