Former Cork City player Robbie Williams believes opponents Villa are odd-on favourites to beat his Pike Rovers side in Sunday’s FAI Junior Cup final.
Turner’s Cross will be the stage for another national decider, a venue player-manager Williams is familiar with from his brief spell at City in 2017 either side of stints at Limerick.
Now 37, he thought playing days were behind him until he judged that nous and experience was a little lacking in his side. The recipe has worked, for Pike have reached the showpiece with a dallop of zeal, including victory over fancied Oilver Bond at Richmond Park in the semi-final.
Overcoming a Villa side with an equally stellar march to the finale – beating crack Tipp outfits St Michael's and Peake Villa before slaying Salthill Devon in the semi – is a taller order in his view.
"Villa FC are probably favourites,” said Williams, engaging in flattery at the Waterford side. ”They're a strong team but we're going down there and put our best on. We need to enjoy ourselves and we need to believe in ourselves.
“I think this group of players can do it but try and focus on your game, and if we can handle the competition on the day, it might go well for us."
He added: "It is tough trying to play and trying to look after the boys at the same time. There was a point in the season where I thought I was just going to be the manager but then I got the bug of playing back. I thought I could help the boys on the pitch.”
His counterpart Conor Coad feels the competitive nature on the Waterford circuit has been the driver of their progression.
"It is a really competitive league at the moment, with five teams realistically capable of winning the title,” said the grandson of the late Shamie Coad and grandnephew of Paddy.
“To have quality opposition in your own league is very important to improve the team and I think it has shown when we've come into the Junior Cup."
Villa FC v Pike Rovers, Sunday (2pm), Turner’s Cross.