After coming so close to beating Shamrock Rovers in the league last Friday, Shels will be hoping that they can knock their Ringsend rivals out of the FAI cup with a win at home this Friday.
Manager Alan Mathews has a justified reputation as a cup specialist- last year’s run to the FAI cup final with Shels only the latest in a string of successes, incliding winning Irish football’s blue riband in 2003 and 2004 with Longford Town.
Recent form would say that Shels could struggle this time, though. On Monday they were disappointing in a 2-0 loss to Pat’s, with Anto Murphy sent off for the Reds. The last time they won at home, with the exception of the 3-2 win over Cherry Orchard in the fourth round of the cup, was way back in July.
Shels will be boosted by the returns of Glen Cronin and Paddy Kavanagh, who both missed the Pat’s match. Ex-Rovers man Kavanagh found the net against his old club last week, when Philly Gorman was also on target.
A goal-line clearance was all that separated Shels from victory in Tallaght, but Alan Mathews was in no doubt about how difficult the task ahead is.
“We want to progress and want to make sure we pass this test,” he said. “We’re going to have to step up to it, going to have to play better than we did [against Pat’s] and last Friday to make sure we get the right result. They’re great games to be playing in, great games to be involved in – and we’re looking forward to it.”
The Hoops begin life without Stephen Kenny with a match that has all the makings of a baptism of fire for stand-in Stephen Glass.
Kenny and Rovers parted ways on Tuesday, following a 1-0 loss to Bohemians on Monday. That loss brought a hugely disappointing Rovers season to its nadir, but the FAI cup presents Glass with a golden opportunity to make a name for himself and restore some pride in the club.
It took a spectacular Ronan Finn goal to salvage a point last week in Tallaght, so Rovers are unlikely to take their hosts for granted."The players are all very much looking forward to the game tomorrow night” Glass said.
“We know it will be a tough fixture, but we are all very keen to get to the semi-final of the FAI cup. Training went well this week, but now the players just want to get on the pitch and focus on football and battling to get that semi-final place."
A back injury rules Graham Gartland out, but apart from that Rovers will have a full squad available.
Referee: Alan Kelly.
Rovers have been to Drumcondra twice this season, and won on both occasions. A Gary Twigg brace and one from Chris Turner led them to a 3-2 league win in late June, and ten days later the Hoops won 4-2 in a Leinster Senior cup semi-final.
Matches between these two have been fairly high scoring lately. Aside from the 2-2, 3-2 and 4-2 mentioned above, Rovers won 4-0 in Tallaght back in March. That means that on average there are 4.75 goals per game.
Shels have to look back to 2005 for the last win in any competition over the Hoops. Jason Byrne, who finished as top scorer in the league, and Joseph Ndo got the goals – in a season where Rovers where relegated amid financial difficulties.
Shelbourne 10/3; Draw 9/4; Shamrock Rovers 5/6.
A draw (2-2 again?), but Rovers to win the replay on Monday.
Shelbourne Injury News: None.
Shelbourne Suspension News: None.
Shamrock Rovers Injury News: Graham Gartland.
Shamrock Rovers Suspension News: None.