Crumlin United will face a familiar foe when they hit the Aviva Stadium turf on Saturday afternoon in search of their fifth FAI Intermediate Cup triumph in ten years.
The Dublin side overcame Avondale United of Cork in the final of the competition at Dalymount Park in 2010 – the second of their four Intermediate Cup triumphs.
Amazingly, these two sides have been involved in 11 of the past 14 finals but have only met once at the final hurdle in that time – a 3-1 win for Martin Loughran’s side.
Avondale have plenty of Intermediate Cup pedigree themselves, having lifted the trophy six times since 2006, but they haven’t contested a final for five years, when they beat UCD reserves.
The two sides have been far and away the outstanding intermediate sides in Ireland over the past decade and more and it promises to be an intriguing tie.
Crumlin knocked out reigning champions Maynooth University Town with a last-minute winner in the semis, and went on to seal their first league title in four years against Cherry Orchard last week.
That’s given Loughran’s side the time to enjoy their win and refocus ahead of the showdown, and the manager is unsure if previous success at the Aviva will be an advantage or not.
“It’ll be a tough game, but we have a good record in the Aviva,” Loughran tells the Dublin Gazette. “We’ve been there twice and won, whereas it’s Avondale’s first go. Whether that gives us the upper hand or not, you never know.
“We just hope we can play to our potential, perform on the day and get it over the line.”
Loughran got an opportunity to cast an eye over Avondale in their all-Cork semi-final win over Rockmount and was impressed by what he saw.
“We went to watch them a few weeks ago in the semi-final when they beat Rockmount 1-0. I have to say they’re a good outfit.
“They’ve been Intermediate Cup kingpins over the past 12 years or so – they’ve won it six times. We’ve won it four in the past ten.
“Out of the last 12, I think the only years neither of us were in it was last year and the year before. It looks like it could be a really good game by two sides.”
Crumlin wrapped up the LSL Sunday Senior title with a 5-0 win away to local rivals Cherry Orchard, who were the model Loughran aspired to when he began his journey with Crumlin in the 00s.
Craig Walsh opened the scoring in the first half before a second-half double from Alan McGreal and one each from Aidan Roche and Liam Brady saw them cruise home.
“To know the next game could be the one that gets you the trophy, the pressure is on a bit.
“It was a great way to win it. There’s no better place to win it than up Cherry Orchard.
“Cherry Orchard set the standards years ago and we always strived to be as good as them and, to be fair, I think we are at this stage.”