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Dublin: 11 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019

John Delaney backs former club for FAI Cup final success in all-Munster affair

The Aviva Stadium hosts St Michael’s v Ballynanty Rovers in the country’s biggest junior soccer competition this afternoon.

St Michael's captain James 'Chalky' Walsh.
St Michael's captain James 'Chalky' Walsh.

IRELAND FACE TURKEY in a senior international friendly at the Aviva Stadium this evening but, for two Munster clubs, a far bigger prize is up for grabs at the Dublin 4 ground immediately beforehand.

St Michael’s of Tipperary and Limerick’s Ballynanty Rovers meet in this year’s FAI Junior Cup final (2pm) with the Saints vying to win the competition for a second time having lifted the trophy last in 1974.

The club, who count FAI chief executive and current Ireland striker Shane Long among their former players, have been on the losing side in the final twice in the last four years but go into the tie as favourites after seeing off reigning champions Sheriff YC at the semi-final stage — thanks to a superb late winner from Brian Buckley.

Source: aviva/YouTube

Speaking yesterday at the official opening of the Stella Maris new 3G pitch, Delaney revealed that St Michael’s still holds a special place in his heart.

“I played with them and that is where I got my love for the game,” he said. “People like DD Cremins who passed away and the Mick Flynn. I grew at the back of the chapel in St Michael’s and that is where we played.

“Ballynanty are a great club too and it’s great to have two Munster teams in the Aviva. If you go with your heart, you want St Michael’s to win because they have lost four finals.

“It was very much Dublin-based but that has changed over the years now and country teams have got a lot stronger.

Jason Purcell’s side are captained by James ‘Chalky’ Walsh, a legend of junior soccer who retired from international football earlier this year having won a record 80 caps for Ireland.

The 37-year-old has also been a runner-up four times and is desperate to add an elusive winner’s medal to his list of honours.

On Walsh, Delaney added: “He has been a great servant to the game and it would be great to see him eventually get the FAI Junior Cup medal.”

Ballynanty Rovers are chasing their first Junior Cup success after coming close in 1976 and 1983. The Limerick outfit have beaten Carrick United, Liffey Wanderers and Collinstown en route to the final.

And, although they may not be favourites today, manager Damien Conway is relishing the opportunity to take on their fellow Munster men.

“Our squad is fairly youthful, so we have a lot of young lads,” Conway said. “The pitch is huge but hopefully the lads will have the legs to get around ok on the day. There is a bit of rivalry between the teams alright, especially over the past few years.

“We would know a lot of the players like Brian (Buckley) and Jason (Purcell) the manager, they both played in Limerick for most of their careers so there is definitely a rivalry there, a sporting one of course!”

Watch a preview from Aviva below:

Source: aviva/YouTube

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Ben Blake

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