Sheriff’s band of friends line up FAI Junior Cup tilt this Saturday

by Dave Donnelly

Sheriff YC have an opportunity to seal their third FAI Junior Cup crown in four years when they face off against St Michael’s of Tipperary at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening.

The north inner-city club became the dominant side in junior football under the guidance of Alan Reilly and Chris Giles, winning the cup four times in their seven years in charge.

It’s been all change on Sheriff Street in the past 12 months as Reilly and Giles were replaced by Mark Quigley, while many of the players responsible for those successes hung up their boots.

Last year was a disappointing one for Sheriff as they lost their AUL Premier A crown to Usher Celtic and were knocked out early in the cup.

The club has been resurgent under the guidance of 2012 League of Ireland player of the year Quigley, who has meshed exciting young players like Dylan Grimes among veterans like Anto Flood.

And they saw off the challenge of Limerick side Aisling Annacotty in the semi-final on Sunday to book a place in the final against 2013-14 Junior Cup winners Michael’s.

Stephen Maher scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot after Keith Rickard had been fouled in the box.

They’ll have little time to dwell on that success, however, with just a six-day turnaround to prepare for another tough engagement with a physical Munster side.

“I’d rather it this way with the semi-finals just having been played on the Sunday,” the former Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers striker Quigley tells the Dublin Gazette.

“It’s something to really look forward to when it’s quick. That was the incentive going into the match, the team talk: you can play a final in the Aviva Stadium on Friday if you win this game.

“All the lads are excited to play there and a few of the new lads haven’t played there.

“Obviously the older lads have, so I’d be looking for them to help the younger lads not to have any nerves.”

A spate of absences forced Quigley to line out on the pitch against Annacotty but, with a full deck now to choose from, he sees himself happily barking orders from the dugout on Saturday.

He’s happy with his decision to hang up his boots (for the most part) 12 months ago and it will mean more to him to guide a side made up of many of his childhood friends to glory at the Aviva.

“I brought in seven or eight lads [in the summer] so there’s been a big changeover – but everything’s seemed to gel and everyone’s working hard for each other.

“It would be amazing to go and win the biggest junior competition in the country in my first season, but I’d more be delighted for the lads.

“Nearly every one of them are best friends of mine – I grew up with them – so it’s really good to let them do it for me and me do it for them.”

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