As far as the FAI Cup goes, derbies are a lot like buses – you wait forever for one and all of a sudden two come a long at once.
CIE Ranch manager Keith Cronin has heard all the jokes at this stage after his side were drawn against Leinster Senior League rivals Dublin Bus in the first round of the FAI Cup.
If the bounce of a ball had gone another way, CIE and Dublin Bus would be preparing to face each other in the same division when LSL Sunday Senior 1 kicks off.
As it happened, the Bus avoided relegation on the final day while CIE were promoted from Senior 1A as champions, and instead they’ll renew acquaintances in the first round of the cup.
The two clubs, based less than five kilometres apart in west Dublin, make up one local derby in the area as Inchicore Athletic were also drawn against League of Ireland side St Patrick’s Athletic.
“I’ve heard them all – it’s good craic,” Cronin told the Dublin Gazette.
“I heard one there last week about if you can’t get into the CIE Ranch and Dublin Bus game with a leap card then there’s something wrong!
“Obviously we would have liked a big Dublin club, for the financial side of it, but we’ll go and give it everything. I’m sure Dublin Bus will be quietly confident of beating us.”
For the 12 non-league clubs to have made it to the final 32 of Ireland’s premier cup competition, drawing a heavy hitter like Shamrock Rovers or Dundalk is always the ideal outcome.
As far as consolation prizes go, facing another amateur side and a realistic chance of progression to the last 16 ranks right up there, though the Bus are rightly considered slight favourites.
That’s on the backburner for Ranch for the time-being, as they prepare to host a team of League of Ireland legends in a fundraising game at the CIE Works on Saturday.
Former internationals Damien Duff, Stephen McPhail and Graham Barrett have already signed up as part of a team organised by Cronin’s brother, Rovers assistant boss Glen Cronin.
“There’s a massive game we’re playing down in the grounds. We’ve got Damien Duff, Stephen McPhail, Glen Cronin and that, so after that we’re going to start marketing the FAI Cup game.
“Glen put their team together, and it’s getting massive attention – we’ve already sold 400 tickets.”
With Inchicore’s tie with Pats likely to switch to Richmond Park, the common sense solution would be a double header at the Saints’ ground in Inchicore.
More likely is that the Bus will host the first-round game, possibly at their all-weather pitch on Coldcut Road, but either way the buzz around the area is tangible.
“When it came to the draw and we had four clubs, we were all looking to avoid each other.
“That was a fantastic draw for Inchicore, another club on the up that’s really pushed themselves.
“If we get through this draw, we’re nearly guaranteed a big club. You’d be unlucky if you didn’t get a League of Ireland club.”