As City prepare to host Monaghan United in the fourth round this evening, the significance of the occasion is not lost on George O’Callaghan, a man who was central to the Leesiders’ celebrated league success just a few short years before the roof fell in on Turner’s Cross.
“I would love to get to the final, especially after the whole drama of the last couple of years,” says the well-travelled 30-year-old. “It would be a nice way to finish the season after all the hard work FORAS has put in. There’s a European place up for grabs and that would be massive for the club.”
Fellow First Division side Monaghan will provide a litmus test in their own right this evening.
“Monaghan are riding high in the league, so it will be a tough test,” says Cork manager Tommy Dunne.
“The FAI Cup, though, is a nice distraction away from the league. Last week’s Munster derby was a disappointing result for us but the second-half performance possibly should have seen us get something from the game, so we can take encouragement from that.”
This evening, Dunne will be without Gavin Kavanagh, Shane Barrett and Eoghan Lougheed, all of whom are cup-tied, while he also has a number of injury concerns. Stephen Mulcahy (groin) and Cathal Lordan (knee) are still sidelined, and Dunne also has doubts over Paul Deasy (knee) and Kieran Kenneally (groin). The City boss also confirmed that, owing to work commitments, Karl Caulfield has left the club.
Another tie which catches the eye this evening is the Dublin derby at Dalymount Park between Bohemians and Shelbourne, a game which will bring back memories for Bohs manager Pat Fenlon and striker Jason Byrne.
“It’s really the first big competitive game against them since I left there,” says Fenlon. “I had great years there as a player and a manager.”
The bleak financial climate at Dalymount is bound to evoke comparisons with the situation which prevailed at Tolka Park before Shels’ spectacular fall to earth, but Byrne is hoping that history won’t repeat itself.
“Shels was a great club,” he says. “I hope Bohs don’t go the way Shels did. It’s a pity, but if things are not done properly off the field these are the things that happen.”
Elsewhere, St Patrick’s Athletic side host Belgrove, the only non-league team remaining in this year’s FAI Cup, holders Sporting Fingal are at home to Limerick while last year’s runners-up, Sligo Rovers, are involved in a tasty north-west derby away to Finn Harps.
Tonight’s FAI Ford Cup fourth round: Bohemians v Shelbourne, Dalymount Park (7.45pm); Cork City Foras Co-op v Monaghan United, Turner’s Cross (7.45pm); Galway United v Salthill Devon, Terryland Park (7.45pm); St Patrick’s Athletic v Belgrove, Richmond Park (7.45pm); UCD v Bray Wanderers, Belfield Bowl (7.45pm); Sporting Fingal v Limerick, Morton Stadium (7.45pm); Finn Harps v Sligo Rovers, Finn Park (8pm) and Longford Town v Shamrock Rovers, Flancare Park (8pm).