Glenville manager Wayne Kelly: 'A few on the committee are Rovers fans - we'll have to keep an eye on them!'

Fri, Aug 11 2017

Tallaght Stadium in the evening light. Credit: Peter Fitzpatrick

Glenville Football Club have come a long way since lining out in their first fixture, in the Athletic Union League Division 2, 20 years ago on Sunday.


Back when the club was set up in the west Dublin suburb of Palmerstown, few on the club's committee could have imagined just how quickly they'd climb the ladder of amateur football.


2015/16 saw the club reach the highest level of the amateur game, the Leinster Senior League Senior Sunday division.


Though they only managed one season at the top level, they got to rub shoulders with the likes of Crumlin United and Cherry Orchard and got a sense of where the bar has been set.


An FAI Cup tie away to Shamrock Rovers, however, may just be the biggest game in the club's history, although few would give the visitors a chance of winning the tie.


The bookies have Wayne Kelly's side – who are still in pre-season ahead of the league's kick-off next week – as 16/1 outsiders to advance on the night.


So the part-timers travel more in hope than anticipation, though with a sprinkling of players with senior and under-19 League of Ireland experience, they'll expect to play some ball too.


“There's no pressure on us at all because nobody is expecting us to win or to progress to the next round. All the pressure is on Shamrock Rovers,” Kelly told on the eve of the game.


“Everything would have to fall into place for us to get a result – maybe Rovers don't play well and we play to our maximum potential and then something good might happen.


“There's always that slight chance that something can happen. You're playing against full-time footballers that are playing at that level for a reason so it's going to be a massive task for us.


“We're confident we can do well and give a good account of ourselves, and once we do that then anything can happen.”


Glenville will look to the example of Collinstown – near neighbours from Neilstown – who beat Rovers 2-0 in the Leinster Senior Cup in Tallaght back in 2015.


Hoops boss Stephen Bradley was assistant manager to Pat Fenlon that day and saw a young Rovers side – many of whom are now established first-team players – outplayed by committed amateurs.


Bradley is likely to send out a stronger and more experienced side than Fenlon did that day, with the FAI Cup the club's likeliest route to Europe, but Glenville are likely to benefit in any case.


And with 35% of the gate going to the away side – money that go a long way towards ensuring their financial security – there's a big incentive for them to make a spectacle.


While up up to 500 fans are expected to make the short trip from Palmerstown, Kelly hopes the home support come out in large numbers to support their side.


“The main thing will be that the club progresses off the pitch and we hopefully, financially, make some money off the night.


“With the club being 20 years old at the weekend as well, it will hopefully be a good omen.


“Rovers have a good following so I just hope their diehard fans come out and watch the game.


“I know their season tickets aren't valid for that game and it is €15, but I'm just hoping a good crowd does come and watch the game and hopefully they realise that it's a support for non-league clubs as well.


“We will get a percentage of the fee they pay in and it goes to the running costs of our club, which could keep a club like ours afloat for another season or two.”


The club have used the opportunity of a glamour cup tie to market the club in the local community, with posters in pubs and shops promoting the game.


It's serendipitous that the tie coincides with the club's 20th anniversary celebrations, so it promises to be a memorable weekend regardless of the result at Tallaght Stadium.


“Our sponsor, the Silver Granite, has an 80-seater bus going up with a price tag of €5 but they'll get a pint on return. And then there's a bit of a do on at the Silver Granite for our 20th anniversary after the game.


“It's all coinciding with a big week for the club, and it's an amazing achievement where the club has come in 20 years, from starting off as a pub team in god knows what league and progressed all the way.


“Last year, being at the pinnacle of amateur football, the Leinster Senior League Senior Sunday Division, was a huge task.


“And now drawing arguably the biggest club in the League of Ireland, it's just a massive statement of where the club has come from.”


There could be some divided loyalties on the Glenville side, with a number of committee members being similarly committed Hoops.


Kelly will have spotters on high alert during the game to ensure that said committee members aren't caught cheering on the 'wrong' side – at least for one night.


“A few on the committee I know are Rovers fans. They were obviously delighted with the draw, and they regularly go to Rovers games so they'll be there.


“A good few of the players are Pats supporters and go to some of the Pats games, and a couple of players would have played for them.


“It should make for an interesting game. The allegiance of the committee members may be questionable – we'll have to keep an eye on them and make sure it's us they're actually following.”


The most recognisable name on the Glenville teamsheet will be that of Derek Doyle, the former St Patrick's Athletic and Shelbourne striker, while Conor Moore played at under-19 level for Rovers.


“A lot of the younger lads would have finished up playing League of Ireland under-19s. We have a lad who was playing with Shamrock Rovers, Conor Moore. He was up there with the under-19s.


“We have a couple of lads who were with Bohs and a couple with Shels, but they're all a group of lads who hang around together from Palmerstown.


“Then we've a guy, Derek Doyle, who probably has a couple of hundred games at League of Ireland level. He's 33.


“He played with Pats in the Europa League and was with Drogheda last year and he just seems to like our club for some reason.


“I know a couple of his mates are playing as well so when he finished up this year he came down and signed for us again, which is great.


“He'll have the experience of that kind of match occasion, whereas the younger lads might not have.


“They're not going to shy away from it – they're really relishing the task – and I think they're really looking forward to it.”