Collinstown are looking forward to what manager Kevin Carroll is describing as “a monster day out” as they take on Galway giants Mervue United in Collinstown College on Sunday (2pm) in the last 16 of the FAI Junior Cup.
The run to date is rolling back the memories of 1992 for many locals involved in the Neilstown Rangers run to the title. Carroll was part of that side while Paul Stokes, a goalscorer on the day, is a physio at Collinstown, giving them unique experience of the competition.
Speaking to GazetteSport ahead of the Mervue date, Carroll said that “nothing compares to it”.
“It’s the biggest cup in Europe in terms of the teams entering. Last year, our lads didn’t know what it was all about. Our young players thought it was like any other cup.
“But the further they went, they got a taste of it. Now, it’s all they talk about and realise how big it is.”
En route to the last 16 stage, Collinstown have defeated second favourites Pike Rovers while they cruised to a 5-0 win over Sligo’s Strand Celtic in the last round.
Carroll has the same squad that achieved that win at his disposal and the omens are good, too. Prior to that win, Collinstown beat Ayrfield in the AUL Premier A league.
After two weeks off, they subsequently beat Ayrfield again to lift them well clear of any potential relegation issues, something that allows his panel to focus fully on the cup date. As for Mervue, Carroll is well aware of their potential.
“It’s mainly the old League of Ireland Division 1 side that dropped down. They’ve stayed together and they have three particularly quality players who could make the step back up to League of Ireland. They’ve won the league down there three years in a row, so they are going to be really good.
“We are the opposite because our side is so young. Young but great quality with a big heart with what has gone on in the club in the last few months and it has pushed players to the front line.”
Carroll is delighted, too, that the tie is taking place on home soil, giving the local community a huge tie to get involved in.
“All the schoolboys love getting involved in their club tracksuits and do a guard of honour. It’s a community based thing and everyone gets behind the team. Because the schoolboys are thriving, they all want to get involved as ball-boy or anything to help out. On Saturday, everywhere will be covered in blue and white, showing their colours and getting behind us.”