FAI Cup Semi Final Preview, 25th April
TSDL side Clonmel Celtic face probably the biggest game in the clubs history at the weekend when they welcome the mighty Sheriff YC of Dublin to Tipperary for the semi-final of the FAI Junior Cup, the largest open amateur football competition in Europe. The Tipperary side have come a long way since they were formed barely over ten years ago, and could cap an unbelievable season by adding their names to the illustrious list of winners on the famous old trophy. To do that though, they will have to overcome one of the aristocrats of Irish Junior soccer of recent years, Sheriff YC from Dublin, who will be bidding to add their own name to the Cup for the third time in four years.
The Clonmel side have emerged in recent years from the shadows of another former winner of this competition, local rivals Clonmel Town, to become the pre-eminent side in the large South Tipperary town. They tasted their first Premier league success in the TSDL two years ago, and are on course to win it again this season, albeit they still have to overcome the current holders, St Michael’s, who were up to their semi-final defeat, also the current holders of the FAI Junior Cup. Since emerging from the local section of the competition they’ve claimed victories against teams from the Cork AUL, the Dublin AUL and the Sligo league, to get to this stage, along with a famous victory in the quarter finals over local rivals Clonmel Town.
Right throughout the competition Celtic have been impressive, scoring 35 goals, while only conceding 3 at the other end. Their team is based on a solid structure with goalkeeper Ciaran Kendrick safe behind a defence marshalled by Craig Condon and Simon Scully. With Kevin Waters and David Joyce anchoring the middle of the field. They also have deadly attacking options through Sean O Hara, Evan Maguire, Ian Barnes, Aaron Moroney and all time club top goalscorer Paul Kennedy, which are enough to frighten any team. No matter who they choose on the day, you can be sure that they will be very much up for emulating their Tipperary Town counterparts and great rivals St Michael’s, to not only reach this year’s final, but to win it, and become the third TSDL side to achieve the honour.
To get to the final though, they face a very strong Dublin side, Sheriff YC, who could justifiably claim the title of strongest Junior side in the country over the past decade. All conquering in their own leagues in the Capital, they have also won this competition on a number of occasions. In fact, it was on Clonmel Celtic’s own ground last year where their attempts to claim the Cup three years in a row came unstuck and that bad Trip to Tipp will want to be erased by a very ambitious club.
What is in store though, promises to be a very good game, where whichever side emerges, are likely to be quickly installed as favourites to win the Cup outright. Action kicks off in Cooke Park at 5pm on Saturday evening, and this is definitely not to be missed by fans of both sides, and any neutral interested in watching top level Junior football.