James Chambers, Stephen Rice, manager Michael O'Neill and Craig Sives pictured ahead of tomorrow's FAI Ford Cup Final against Sligo Rovers at the Aviva Stadium. INPHO/Cathal Noonan
Big Day Out

Battle of the Rovers in Aviva cup final

It’ll be a good day for Rovers tomorrow – whoever wins the cup final.

IT’S THE BIGGEST day in the domestic football calendar, arguably.

League champions Shamrock Rovers will attempt to complete a famous double at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow – but Paul Cook’s Sligo Rovers will have a lot to say in the matter first.

The Bit O’ Red have been the best footballing side in the league this season and with reduced ticket prices, the Lansdowne Rd crowd should be treated to a very entertaining game.

Aidan Price has been given the all-clear to play for the Hoops but star striker Gary Twigg will face a late fitness test.

Price has only been able for light training since Rovers clinched the Airtricity League Premier Division title in dramatic circumstances. The centre-half has been struggling with a groin problem – but he has the green light to line out.

Twigg is also expected to be fit but he will have to pass a late fitness test.

Former Cork City players Dan Murray and Pat Sullivan as well as Sean O’Connor are all out through injury while  Robert Bayly misses out through suspension.

With Murray sidelined, Stephen Rice will skipper Michael O’Neill’s side. He told the Iirsh Times’ Emmet Malone that he plans to win the cup for his grandmother:

She’s been in hospital for the last couple of months. But I think she might be able to be there on Sunday which would be great. I dedicated the league medal to her because she was a massive part of how I did it.

Essentially, I lived with her, my mother and my granda, so she was like a second mother. She was watching the Bray game in hospital that night and the next day I went in and put the league medal around her neck.

It’s not just about the players celebrating, it’s the families making the sacrifices because they have to deal with us when things aren’t going right, the girlfriends, the wives, the parents.”

The FAI confirmed earlier in the week that lower section tickets in Aviva Stadium are almost sold out through the clubs with 30,000 fans expected to attend thanks to a competitive pricing structure.

Former Shamrock Rovers man Eoin Doyle meanwhile, is ready to show the Tallaght faithful what they’re missing – particularly if the westerners win.

He told the Irish Daily Star, he’ll enjoy a trip back to his old neighbourhood:

I’d be strutting around with the winner’s medal on my neck.

Tallaght Stadium mascot – the infamous Hooperman – has also released a song, in the time-honoured cup final build-up tradition.