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The Bell will travel to Tallaght Stadium as the home team to take on Shamrock Rovers in Friday’s FAI Cup quarter-final (kick off 7.45pm).
The Leinster Senior League side had hoped to play the game at their home venue in the Red Cow but access issues for such a large crowd have forced them to switch the match to Tallaght.
Losing home advantage didn’t faze them in the last round when drawn against First Division side Cabinteely as, after switching their second round tie to Stradbrook, they emerged victorious – winning 1-0 thanks to Shane Stitch’s first half goal.
In the first round they defeated Sheriff YC 3-0 at the Red Cow thanks to two goals from Gary Seery and a strike from Dean Ebbe.
Speaking to the Dublin Gazette, Bluebell boss Andy Noonan admitted that “it is a bit disappointing we had to concede the home advantage, because we were doing a lot to try and keep it in the Red Cow.
“We’re just going to enjoy the game and the occasion. In 90 minutes of football anything can happen.”
There is plenty of experience within his squad including a number of connections with Shamrock Rovers, however they will have to do without former Irish international Keith Fahey due to his sending off in Stradbrook.
Willo McDonagh played with Rovers prior to the Tallaght era. Robert Bayly had two spells at Rovers including 2010 when he was part of Rovers’ title winning side under manager Michael O’Neill, while Ryan Combes played for Rovers’ B-team in the First Division.
Dean Ebbe spent some time as part of Rovers’ 2012 squad and when playing with Collinstown last year scored twice in Tallaght Stadium as the non-league side knocked Rovers out of the Leinster Senior Cup.
The Bell have won two Leinster Senior League titles in the last three years and were runners up last year.
For Shamrock Rovers the tag “cup specialists” is one of mirth used by opposition fans to taunt the record FAI Cup winners about the millstone of a three-decade Cup drought.
The move to Tallaght in 2009 has seen Rovers have won all the domestic trophies available to them in that time bar the one they have won a record 24 times – the FAI Cup, the trophy which they last lifted when playing out of Glenmalure Park.
They have made it to three FAI Cup semi-finals in that time, the last one in 2014. Having conceded home advantage to the Hoops, it is hard to see Bluebell United stopping Rovers making it to their 46th FAI Cup semi-final.
The current Hoops head coach Stephen Bradley was just two years old when the Hoops last won the FAI Cup in 1987.
His side are on a great run of form at the moment and, while Bradley was respectful of their non-league opposition, he is very much focused on winning a trophy this season – something which may come sooner rather than later with Rovers due to play in the EA Sports Cup final next weekend.
“We want to overcome that hurdle of winning something as early as possible and cup competitions give us a massive opportunity to do that this year,” said Bradley, speaking to shamrockrovers.ie.
“The players know that and will be focused. We've gone six games on a winning streak and we've been playing well. We were always going to get stronger as the season went on.
"I've watched Bluebell a lot. I know Andy [Noonan] and a lot of their players and I know they're doing some really good stuff down there as a club. They're the top team in their division I believe from watching it the last few years.
“They've got some really good players and I know it's going to be a tough game. If we were to think anything otherwise we'd be very foolish because they're a good side.
“Andy has them set up well and they play some good football. We've got to respect what they're going to bring, their energy and passion.
“I believe they could compete with a lot of teams in the First Division and our division as well. We just have to show up with the right attitude on Friday and set up right. It's two games away from the final.”
Rovers had a great win last week beating ‘champions-elect’ Cork City 3-1 in the league.
"It was probably our most complete performance of the season,” said Bradley, “because we had to defend well at times. We attacked well at times and we were ruthless in the final third which was pleasing to see.”
Bradley will have to do without Graham Burke, who picked up an injury in training ahead of the win over Cork, while it has been confirmed that Sean Boyd is out for the rest of the season having had to have treatment on a stomach injury.
Referee: Graham Kelly
Bluebell United are seeking to become the first non-league side to reach an FAI Cup semi-final since St. Francis managed that feat 27 years ago.
Rovers have only been knocked out of the FAI Cup by a non-league side just once. That was by St. Patrick’s Athletic when the Inchicore club were playing in the Leinster Senior League in 1949. The Hoops have won 15 ties in a row against non-league teams.
The last time the clubs met in competitive action was in 1988 when Rovers eliminated the Bell from the Leinster Senior Cup after a penalty shoot-out at the Red Cow.
Bluebell 16/1; Draw 7/1; Shamrock Rovers 1/7.
Bluebell United 0 – 2 Shamrock Rovers
Suspended: Keith Fahey.
Injured: Graham Burke, Sean Boyd, Paul Corry.
Doubtful: Luke Byrne, Gary Shaw.
Suspended: Ronan Finn.