Skerries’ Reynolds plots yet another big FAI Cup shock

by Dave Donnelly

It’s 15 years since Skerries Town last competed in the FAI Senior Cup, when they achieved a memorable first round win over now-defunct Monaghan United at home.

Player-manager that day was Alan Sweeney and, a decade and a half later, a slightly longer-in-the-tooth Sweeney will lead the side from the dugout when they face League of Ireland side Waterford.

The high-flying Blues, with former international Noel Hunt a recent addition, will expect to advance against a side five rungs below them in the league ladder.

Memories of their last giant-killing loom large in the town’s imagination, however, and Sweeney is confident they can give them a good game – if they’re allowed keep home advantage.

“The last time we qualified was 15 years ago – I was actually playing and managing myself at the time back then,” Sweeney tells the Dublin Gazette.

“We played Monaghan United in the Park.

“There was a big crowd and they let us go ahead with it in the Park, and we beat Monaghan 1-0. The Park hasn’t changed, but the criteria might have.”

Alan Reynolds’ Waterford boast a plethora of star names, including Hunt and former Irish underage internationals Courtney Duffus and Ismahil Akinade.

For a town starved of top-level cup action in recent years, however, a big name could provide a real boost for football in an area where rugby and GAA have long ruled.

“It’s huge for the schoolboy benefit within the town. We sort of play third fiddle in Skerries behind the rugby club and the GAA. We’re the third choice of a lot of people within the town.

“I think this high-profile game can only benefit us going forward in terms of getting kids involved. Already the buzz around the place is fantastic.

“We know we’re going to be playing one of the best sides in the country, but that’s why you want to get into these rounds. You want to get into the hat with big boys to try and get one of them.

“You’re after getting through five rounds – you don’t want to be getting another non-league team at this stage. The home draw against one of the big boys – perfect.”

The club hope to host the fixture on their home patch but much depends on the FAI’s inspection on Friday and how many Waterford will look to take up to Dublin.

“We have a few options within the town – the rugby club is a possibility for us, or we could go to Glebe North down the road in Balbriggan if needs be. We’ll wait to see what the FAI say on Friday.”

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