RIVERVALLEY Rangers will make history on February 8 when they line out against Donnycarney United in the seventh round of FAI Junior Cup, reaching the last 16 of the competition for the very first time.
The Swords club came away from Limerick last week with a 2-0 win over Regional United in the all-Ireland competition and are now looking forward to playing for a quarter-final berth against their north Dublin rivals.
Manager Stephen Doran reckons his side are one of the lowest ranked left in the competition as they play in the fourth tier of the AUL leagues.
Indeed, Donnycarney ply their trade three divisions above them but Doran says he is “delighted” with the draw, especially as they do not have to travel too far.
“In football, anything can happen,” he told GazetteSport. “It’s a one-off game but they seem to be doing really well in the cups which would give them a bit of momentum. They would be clear favourites, playing better teams week in, week out. But why can’t we go and try and win the game?”
The two sides shared a 0-0 draw in December in a friendly but Doran admits both sides were missing players.
It suggests, though, that the gap may not be as big as the three divisions between them with Rivervalley in red-hot form with eight wins in succession in the league while they also saw off Kilkenny’s Freebooters last Sunday in the Leinster Junior Cup.
For Doran, the impressive run is indicative of the hard work being put in throughout the club to revive their form after a few barren years.
“It’s come from the top,” he said. “We have got a lot of good young people on committee level which has rejuvenated Rivervalley as a whole.
“Their hard work put together with myself and the management team, bringing in the players that have come in – in the first team, we have retained one player from last year – to make a completely new side. They have all come from playing in better divisions.”
And the focus has been on developing the parish spirit, drawing back some of the products of the youth section, something they are looking to address.
“Every one that has come in is from Rivervalley; all of them would have played in the junior section for a time as did myself and the coaches. They would have all been involved.
“We have an Under-17s but there is a massive gap to Under-14s so we have been making a conscious effort to go with the likes of 23-, 24- and 25-year-olds who can give us six or seven years and then we can have the young lads coming through, giving them time to get in at senior level.
“The goal then is to have a team at every level underage. I know the committee are very active in trying to bridge that gap. We are working hard on that side of things and we are delighted to be in the last 16 in the club’s history. The players have been brilliant.”