By Dave Donnelly
Maynooth University Town’s record-breakers will travel to Dalymount Park to face Bohemians in their first-ever FAI Cup quarter-final tilt.
Barry Prendeville’s side celebrated their own piece of history on Saturday evening as they joined an elite club of amateur sides to reach the last eight of Ireland’s premier cup contest.
A heart-stopping 3-2 win over League of Ireland side Cobh Ramblers at St Francis’ John Hyland Park was enough to set up a place in Tuesday’s draw.
And the tension continued to mount as the eight teams were drawn and finally, after seven times winners Bohemians, the Kildare club’s name was read out.
“Realistically, it’s going to be a very tough game, but we are preparing to try our very best, preparing properly, and hopefully take the opportunity,” Prendeville (right) told the Dublin Gazette.
“We’re realistic. We have no budget. They have a budget and pay players and what have you, but the magic of the Cup and all that.”
A trip to Dalymount won’t daunt the Maynooth squad by any means, as the majority of the players have been involved with League of Ireland clubs over the years.
The likes of defender Conor Dunne and Jackson Ryan, who netted the all-important winning goal, have spent several seasons in the league.
A large number of the current squad were part of the side that came from behind to beat Firhouse Clover and seal a first-ever FAI Intermediate Cup at the Aviva Stadium.
Those achievements mean there will be little to faze the squad when they descend on the home of Irish football in Phibsboro in two weeks.
“A lot of [our players] have played League of Ireland football, and they’ve played in the Aviva in the last few years. We played Cork City in Turner’s Cross, so it won’t faze the guys.”
The club have made strides off the field, too, though spectator facilities that will be installed in the coming months came too late for them to host the Cobh game.
Maynooth made an expression of interest in joining the League of Ireland last year with aim of restoring top-level football to Kildare, missing since the demise of Kildare County in 2008.
With Klub Kildare making progress at underage level, Prendeville hopes that either Maynooth or somebody else, in partnership with Klub Kildare, can make that jump up eventually.
“We don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility, but it’s not imminent. With the great work beind done at Klub Kildare, with Pat McNally, there should be a pathway in Kildare.
“I don’t think it’s right that boys and girls should have to go to a Dublin club, or a club outside of Kildare, when Kildare is such a big county with a big population.
“I think there should be League of Ireland football in Kildare, whether that is through our club, or a link-up with Klub Kildare, or someone else.
“But I definitely think it’s unfair that young players should have to go out of their own county to get League of Ireland football.”