Sheriff power into FAI final

by Gazette Reporter
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SHERIFF YC outclassed Limerick District League champions Janesboro 4-1 at Tolka Rovers’ Frank Cooke Park last Sunday to book a fourth FAI Junior Cup Final appearance in five years.
Twin tactical accomplishments saw Sheriff through: a clinical ability to hit hard on the break, and a high-quality defensive and goalkeeping performance that saw them shut out Janesboro’s dangerous striker Shane Clarke, who has averaged 60 goals a season over the last couple of campaigns.
A scrappy opening saw both sides flying into tackles and firing dangerous pot shots from distance, with Sheriff looking marginally the more likely despite the visitor’s spells of possession.
The home side’s breakthrough came after quarter of an hour, when Anto Kavanagh found a sharp through ball from midfield to put Sean Murphy through on Janesboro’ keeper Lee Murphy.
Murphy’s quickfire shot beat the dive of the other, and Sheriff looked to be on their way.
Janesboro struck back almost immediately, though, with Arron Nunan finding space around the edge of the area and cancelling out the Fairview side’s opener almost as soon as they’d finished celebrating it.
The game had a real frenetic cup tie feel, with both sides throwing themselves into the contest and a sizeable crowd – many of whom travelled from Limerick – egging them on. Sheriff’s second, just 25 minutes in, came courtesy of a perfectly placed free kick, nodded into the Janesboro net by a stretching Darren Dunne.
Sheriff were going all out, pinging shots from distance – a couple of which needed desperate tip overs by Murphy – and making convincing use of their possession.
An evenly matched second half saw Janesboro forced to attack the home side but they were unable to convert as the usually clinical Clarke saw a slightly scuffed finish cleared off the Sheriff line.
When Sheriff legend John Rock set up Mark Higgins for a smart flicked third on 65 minutes, the Hoops looked a certainty, and a fourth from main man Rock himself in injury time – lashed in as Janesboro were forced to chase the game – gave the scoreline a slightly harsh one-sidedness to it.
The AUL’s dominant club are often singled out as “in need of a new challenge” with the suggestion being they might belong at a higher level than the promotion-free junior division they currently operate atop.
This dominant performance from a club who came into the game as evens favourites to win the cup certainly suggests they’d be capable.
Sheriff will face the winners of St Peter’s (Athlone) and Pike Rovers (Limerick) on May 14 at the Aviva Stadium.

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