Ports’ FAI Cup storm

by Karl Graham
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PORTMARNOCK are set for another milestone event as the north Dublin side were drawn at home to St Patrick’s Athletic in the first round of the FAI Senior Cup.
The side are fresh off the back of their third promotion in a row to book their place in the LSL Sunday Senior division for next season, and now have a plum tie on the weekend of August 13 to help them prepare for their first game in the league the following weekend.
“We are delighted,” Portmarnock manager Willie O’Leary told GazetteSport. “It is obviously a big day for the club and we are, obviously, up against it because we are still in preseason. They are mid season and are a professional setup as well!
“Overall, it’s great though. Everyone at the club is delighted because it is a big boost for the new season and we get to play top class opposition as well.”

The timing of the fixture is not ideal for Portmarnock as the gulf in fitness between the sides that would already exist is heightened by them being at different stages of their campaign, but O’Leary hopes his players can still give a good account of themselves.
“As I said, it is still part of our preseason because our league doesn’t start until a week after so we are obviously aiming for that. We will be up against it with these so you have to moderate your expectations as well. You want to do well and your players to not have any fear; that’s why you enter these competitions.
“We have a lot of players who are ex-League of Ireland. Brian Kane played for Bray [Wanderers], Graham Rusk played with UCD, Drogheda [United] and Athlone [Town], Phillip Rusk played with Bohemians, Ross Moran was with [Shamrock] Rovers and Gareth Whelan was with Drogheda so we’ve lads with experience who played at that level. They’re not all rookies in that respect.”
O’Leary is also hoping that the home draw will be sanctioned by the FAI so the whole community can get involved in the occasion.
“The home draw is subject to being passed by the FAI. The pitch is immaculate, absolutely no question about that, it’s just the other surrounding things.
“We’d like to think we will get it over the line and play them at Paddy’s Hill and we’ll be having a meeting with the FAI about it this week. Ideally, I’d like it to be played in the middle of the community and if we got support from the local community as well.
“I know our neighbours Malahide have done it before against Bohs, Dundalk, St Patricks Athletic and Sligo so there is precedent there.”

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