Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley wants the FAI to properly promote and market next month’s Cup final in the hope of filling the Aviva Stadium. Rovers face cup holders and league champions Dundalk on November 3 in the decider.
Dundalk are chasing a historic treble while Rovers look to end a 32-year wait in their drive for a record-extending 25th Blue Riband.
The first cup final at the Aviva in 2010 drew a record attendance of 36,101 when Sligo Rovers beat the Hoops in a dramatic penalty shootout.
Over 30,000 attended last year’s final between Dundalk and Cork City, some 20,000 short of the venue’s capacity.
The FAI widely promoted this week’s women’s and U21 international qualifiers which saw record attendances flock to Tallaght Stadium. Bradley hopes to see more of the same from Abbotstown in the hope of packing the Aviva.
“I think we could fill it,” said Bradley. “It’s the best two teams in the country and it has all the makings to be a great game.
It would be great for the FAI and both clubs to push it as hard as we can. Let’s try and break the record attendance for a final.
Rovers are without Jack Byrne and Roberto Lopes, on international duty with Ireland and Cape Verde, respectively, for the visit of Finn Harps to Tallaght Stadium for tonight’s league clash.
But they are welcome absentees for Bradley who is pleased that defender Lopes made his debut for the Atlantic archipelago in a 2-1 win over Togo in Marseilles yesterday.
“It’s brilliant,” said Bradley of Lopes, who qualifies for Cape Verde through his father. “I’m delighted for him because he’s been probably our most consistent player all season.”
Rovers are also without suspended pair Joey O’Brien and Gary O’Neill while young defender Sean Callan is out for the reminder of season with a medial ligament injury.
Harps, looking to secure the relegation play-off spot, have key defender Daniel O’Reilly and leading scorer Nathan Boyle back from suspension.
Cork City take on bottom side UCD at Turner’s Cross with boss Neale Fenn looking for a first win in seven games since taking charge to rubber-stamp their Premier Division status for next season. Defeat for Finn Harps in Tallaght would effectively seal City’s safety anyway.
“It’s a huge game for us, depending on how the result goes at Shamrock Rovers,” said Fenn. “We’re not overly concerned with how other teams are doing, we just need to concentrate on ourselves.
I felt that in patches we played well (in 1-0 defeat at Bohemians last week), it’s just putting the ball is the net is the problem. If we could correct that tonight, we’ll be alright.
Midfielder Kevin O’Connor is fit, though Ronan Hurley remains out along with Cian Bargary and Cian Murphy.
UCD are without central defender Liam Scales, who is with the Ireland U21 squad.
Third-placed Bohemians can edge closer to securing a Europa League spot at Dalymount Park, though champions Dundalk will have other ideas as they chase down a record points total. U21 international duty deprives Bohs of Danny Mandroiu while fellow midfielders Keith Buckley and Conor Levingston are injury doubts. Full-backs Darragh Leahy and Andy Lyons are out alongside long-term absentees Dinny Corcoran and Cristian Magerusan. Dundalk are without injured midfielders John Mountney and Patrick McEleney.