Shamrock Rovers have a lot in their in-tray at present, maintaining top spot in the Premier Division, playing an as yet unknown opponent in the Europa Conference League third qualifying round and then facing Galway United in the FAI Cup this Friday night (kick off 8pm).
Rovers are by far the most successful team in the history of the FAI Cup having won it 25 times, with Dundalk their closest rivals with a dozen cup wins.
However a closer look at the record book reveals that, apart from their recent Cup win in 2019, it was as far back as the 1986/87 season when they last won the Cup, a stretch of 32 years.
The Hoops have been very much on message in the last month, pushing Slovan Bratislava to the limit in the home leg of the Champions League qualifier which they won 2-1, comprehensively beating arch rivals Dundalk 3-1 earlier in the month and holding off both Sligo Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic for the top spot in the league table.
The impact of the loss of Jack Byrne and Aaron McEneff was evident earlier in the season but with Danny Mandroiu hitting form, Richie Towell now eligible to play since July 1st and injuries to Dylan Watts, Joey O’Brien and Sean Kavanagh now cleared up, Rovers are well equipped to tackle all three competitions with renewed confidence.
Hoops Head Coach Stephen Bradley spoke to the Rovers media team in advance of the game and said “it will be a really difficult game. I’ve watched their last few games. They’re doing really well. We know John (Caulfield) is a top manager, and he’ll have them right at it tomorrow night.
“They’ll come with no fear, it’s a free shot for Galway, and we’ve got to be ready for that. We’ve got to respect that, and make sure that we give Galway the respect we gave Slovan and the respect we gave Derry, because anything less will give Galway a right chance of winning the game.”
There will be 500 specators allowed at this evening's cup fixture.
Galway United won their one and only FAI Cup 30 years ago, when, ironically, they beat Shamrock Rovers with a 1-0 score line. The Joey Malone managed team were drawing 0-0 with Rovers after 85 minutes had elapsed when Tommy Keane whipped in a perfect cross from the corner flag giving Galwegian legend Johnny Glynn the simple task of tapping the ball into an empty net.
The current side is managed by former Cork City legend John Caulfield and after a sluggish start to the season they have really stabilised in recent months and sit in second position in the First Division table behind runaway leaders Shelbourne.
They are unbeaten since April 28th, and in the last six games have amassed 16 points propelling them into second position albeit only ahead of Treaty Unitrd on goal difference.
Ruairi Keating has been hugely impressive for Caulfield’s side this year having 10 goal contributions to his name, seven goals and three assists.
Their defensive record is also notable, they have had five clean sheets in their last six games, with the last goal conceded being as far back as June 11th when they defeated Athlone Town 2-1 at Eamonn Deacy Park.
United manager John Caulfield is urging his players to enjoy the occasion at Tallaght Stadium on Friday night, saying tohis club’s media team “We look forward to this week’s cup game, Rovers are a top club. It is going to be a different level. We will go there to work hard and do our best.
“We will enjoy the occasion and it will be good for the lads to see the difference in standards between the two divisions. We will give everything and have a go but it will be a real challenge against the top club in the country.”
Caulfield will be missing his captain Conor McCormack as the former Shamrock Rovers player is suspended.
Referee: Rob Hennessy
Shamrock Rovers 3 - 0 Galway Utd
Shamrock Rovers 2/9; Draw 4/1; Galway Utd 9/1
The head -to- head results make sobering reading for Galway Utd fans ahead of Friday night’s Cup clash. In the last 30 games between the two sides, Rovers have won 27 games, including the last 19 in a row, with the other three games drawn.
The most recent match between the two sides was at the quarter-final stage of the 2019 FAI Ford Cup which Rovers won 2-1. Maurice Nugent gave Galway the lead in that match only for Rovers to reel them in with goals from Aaron Greene and Lee Grace.
Injured: Neil Farrugia
Injured: Francely Lomboto, Ronan Manning, Carlton Ubaezuonu, Killian Brouder, Conor O’Keeffe, Shane Doherty, David Hurley
Suspended: Conor McCormack
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