Avondale ready to shoot down Sheriff

Runaway Munster Senior League leaders Avondale United got the home draw they wanted in the FAI Ford Cup, first round — but they’ll still be up against it when they meet Dublin side Sheriff YC, who have an added incentive to do well in the Blue Riband this year.

Sheriff, managed by Alan Reilly who won a League of Ireland title with Bohemians in 2003, caused a stir last year when they came from 2-0 down to beat Shelbourne 3-2 in the fourth round. But the current AUL leaders were subsequently dumped out of the competition for fielding an ineligible player. Shelbourne went on to reach the final, in which they were unlucky to lose to Sligo Rovers.

Avondale have also got a home draw in the semi-final of the Intermediate Cup when they will meet either fellow Cork side Everton or Phoenix.

“With two home draws, we’re happy,” Avondale secretary Tom Mullane said. “It’s the 11th time we’ve qualified. We’ve been lucky and played many games at home.”

Their win over Shelbourne last season was the greatest day in the history of Sheriff. Their subsequent expulsion merely gives his players added incentive to qualify for the second round, when the League of Ireland sides enter, insists Reilly.

“It was a knock on the chin,” said Reilly of last year’s fiasco. “But you just have to get on with it. You can’t dwell on it.

“It did give us an incentive to push on in the Intermediate Cup this year to get into this draw for the FAI senior, and thankfully we did.”

Travelling to Cork won’t faze Sheriff either. “Everyone wants a home draw,” said Reilly. “But the side proved last year that they could go to Cork (against College Corinthians) and win and got a result at Salthill Devon and then faced Shels.”

Leinster Senior League Division 2A side Lucan United, one of three clubs in the first round proper for the first time, bring the vast experience of Mark Rutherford, who captains them from midfield, as they travel to face fellow Dubliners Phoenix.

“We played Phoenix a few weeks ago in the Intermediate Cup and lost a replay in extra-time,” said Rutherford, now 39, who played in nine FAI Cup finals, winning four with Shels and Bohs. “We matched them in both games and were unlucky to lose.”

Blarney United, Everton, St Patrick’s CY and Drumkeen United all received byes into the second round, the draw for which takes place on Apr 30.

FAI Ford Cup (first round draw): Kildrum Tigers v Clonmel Celtic; Douglas Hall v Killester Utd; Phoenix v Lucan Utd; Malahide Utd v College Corinthians; Avondale United v Sheriff YC; Cherry Orchard v Verona; Ballymun Utd v Mayfield Utd; Crumlin Utd v Kilbarrack Utd.

Byes: Blarney Utd, Everton, St Patrick’s CY; Drumkeen Utd.

(Ties to be played week ending Apr 1).

Intermediate Cup (semi-final draw)

Avondale Utd v Everton or Phoenix.

Cherry Orchard v Verona or Killester Utd.

(Ties to be played on week ending Apr 8).


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