The 2017 Irish Daily Mail FAI Senior Cup got underway in earnest this weekend with eight qualifying round games taking place around the country.
20 teams entered the draw for the qualifying round at FAI headquarters in Abbotstown in March, where the 16 clubs who progressed to the fourth round of the 2016/17 FAI Intermediate Cup were joined by this season’s four FAI Junior Cup semifinalists, Sheriff YC (Dublin), Evergreen (Kilkenny), Boyle United (Roscommon) and Killarney Celtic from Kerry.
Of the twenty entrants, four lucky Leinster Senior League clubs in Crumlin United, Bluebell United, Portmarnock and Glenville received a bye to the First Round proper whilst the remaining sixteen were paired off this weekend to see who would progress to join them.
This season’s Intermediate Cup finalists had differing fortunes this weekend with Cobh Wanderers progressing away at Edenderry Town while Liffey Wanderers were beaten on penalties by Everton.
Cobh, buoyant by their recent dramatic Intermediate Cup semi-final replay victory over Greystones United made the long journey on Saturday afternoon to Offaly. Central defender Brian Fitzgerald’s fifth-minute strike was all that was required to send Michael Deasy’s men through.
Despite the 1-0 scoreline Wanderers were comfortable throughout the tie and could have won by a much greater margin. The impressive James Stoat and Shane Geasley were a thorn in Edenderry’s side all afternoon and the Wanderers defence, marshalled by Fitzgerald and Eoin Hastings, ensured that former Cork City goalkeeper Mick Devine was rarely troubled.
Liffey Wanderers, who Cobh meet in the Aviva Stadium on May 13th, succumbed to Cork side Everton (full match report here), who themselves are in contention for Munster League honours this season, in dramatic circumstances at Everton Park.
With both sides deadlocked scoreless after the regulation ninety minutes Liffey Wanderers, who had missed a penalty in normal time, went ahead from the spot courtesy of Anthony O'Connor with ten minutes remaining.
The lead would only last two minutes however as Everton’s Jason Sexton powered home a header to send the tie to penalties. Sexton then donned the goalkeeping gloves for Everton during the shootout going on to save one and score another as the Cork side went on to win 5-3.
Elsewhere in Cork on Saturday afternoon Ballincollig progressed by defeating a youthful College Corinthians side 1-0 thanks to David Tobin’s opportunistic effort one minute before the break.
Corinthians, whose back four comprised entirely under-18 player,s competed admirably but the Ballincollig defense marshalled by Dave Sweeney held out (full match report here).
Three of the four junior clubs progressed to the next phase of the competition.
Last season’s Junior Cup champions Sheriff YC triumphed 3-0 at LSL side Greystones United in Co. Wicklow on Saturday night. Mark Higgins, Paul Murphy and John Rock were on the scoresheet to send the 2015 Senior Cup quarter-finalists through, where they will be a match for any side.
Evergreen from Kilkenny, whom they face in the Junior Cup final at the Aviva Stadium on May 13th, defeated MSL side St Mary’s from Cork on penalties.
In the all-junior tie, Killarney Celtic saw off Boyle Celtic from Roscommon thanks to a 22nd minute Pa Mcgrath header, sending the Kerry side through to the first round proper for the first time in their history.
In the other two remaining games, which were made up of Leinster Senior League sides, Bangor Celtic defeated Cherry Orchard 3-2 whilst Killester United needed penalties to overcome Ballymun United after the game finished 1-1 after 120 minutes.
The full line-up of non-league clubs in the First Round of the FAI Senior Cup is as follows:
They will be joined in the draw by the 20 League of Ireland clubs.