SOCCER

Tipperary outfit St Michael’s face competition kingpins Sheriff YC in Saturday's FAI Junior Cup final

Brian McDonnell

Reporter:

Brian McDonnell

Email:

bmcdonnell@tipperarystar.ie

Tipperary outfit St Michael’s face competition kingpins Sheriff YC in Saturday's FAI Junior Cup final

The St Michael’s squad of players and management team pictured celebrating their dramatic Munster Champions Trophy final win over Newmarket Celtic at Newhill Park in Two-Mile-Borris.

St Michael’s will face FAI Junior Cup kingpins Sheriff YC at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on Saturday, May 11 (kick-off 5pm) - the Dublin side saw off the challenge of Aisling Annacotty (1-0) in Sunday’s semi-final at the AUL Complex and are chasing their fifth title in eight seasons. Sheriff YC won the New Balance-sponsored FAI Junior Cup in 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2017 while the Dublin outfit also appeared in the 2015 decider.

St Michael’s qualified for the final of the FAI Junior Cup thanks to a 2-0 semi-final win over Glengad United at Cooke Park in Tipperary town. The last four clash proved a tense affair before goals from Jimmy Carr and Joey Mulcahy (penalty) booked the Saints a place in the decider.

The last eight in the competition pitted St Michael's against the might of Evergreen in Kilkenny and the Saints prevailed on a 1-0 scoreline. In the last sixteen St Michael's beat Mervue United 2-1 while this outstanding Saints team saw off the challenge of last season’s semi-finalists Newmarket Celtic (Clare & District League) in the last thirty-two (2-0). Previous to that encounter St Michael's beat Leitrim's Manorhamilton Rangers (2-1), Tipperary Town (7-0), Old Bridge (10-0) and Mullinahone FC (6-0).

St Michael’s previously won the FAI Junior Cup in 1974 and 2014 and warmed up for the FAI Junior Cup final with a 4-0 Clonmel Credit Union Premier League win over Peake Villa in Thurles on Saturday evening - Russell Quirke (two), Danny O’Brien and Jimmy Carr helped themselves to the goals.

Besides the FAI Junior Cup this St Michael's team are chasing an extraordinary haul of five trophies this season with two already in the bag - see below for details.

MUNSTER JUNIOR CUP

An Olly O'Driscoll strike has propelled St Michael's into the club’s 11th Munster Junior Cup final - in the last four of the prestigious competition the Saints beat Geraldines (Limerick District League) 1-0 at Jackman Park in Limerick on Sunday, April 28.

St Michael's will face Pike Rovers in the decider - the Limerick District League side beat Newmarket Celtic on penalties in their respective semi-final and Rovers are chasing a third consecutive provincial crown. The Saints last won the Munster Junior Cup in 2016 while they lost out to Pike Rovers in the 2017 final. Jackman Park in Limerick will host the Munster Junior Cup final - date and time for the final to be confirmed.

In the quarter-finals of the competition St Michael's made the trip to Limerick to take on and beat Kilmallock United (4-1). In the fifth round (last sixteen) the Tipperary South & District League champions hosted and beat Cork outfit Lakewood Athletic 3-1. Thus far the Saints have also beaten Carrick United B (2-0), Clonmel Town (4-1), Cahir Park (3-0) and Wilderness Rovers (2-0) to reach this stage of the competition.

St Michael’s previously won the Munster Junior Cup in 1973, 1990, 1991, 2001, 2005, 2011, 2014 and 2016.

TIPPERARY CUP

St Michael's are also through to the Tipperary Cup final following a 6-0 last four away win over the Peake Villa B team. The Saints will face a Clonmel Town side in the final which beat St Michael's B (3-1) at the semi-final stage of the competition.

The Saints’ Tipperary Cup quarter-final victory over Bansha Celtic proved a sweet one. Their only hic-cup this season occurred in the John Delaney Cup (a pre-season tournament). St Michael's beat Borroway Rovers (4-2) and Blackcastle Templemore Harps (2-0) before losing the final of that tournament to Bansha Celtic (1-3). And, Bansha Celtic also presented the Saints with their only league defeat this season.

In the first round of the Tipperary Cup St Michael's saw off the challenge of Cashel Town B (5-0) before accounting for Peake Villa (4-1), but in the quarter-finals Bansha Celtic managed to trouble St Michael’s once more. The contest finished nil-all before the Saints won a sudden death penalty shoot-out 4-3.

MUNSTER CHAMPIONS TROPHY

On April 21 at Newhill Park in Two-Mile-Borris an outstanding display from goalkeeper Adrian Walsh helped to propel St Michael’s to a Munster Champions Trophy final win over Newmarket Celtic. Following a physical encounter (full-time: 1-1) the Saints edged a penalty shoot-out with Johnny Kennedy firing home the decisive spot kick.

Ten minutes into the second half a Shane Ryan strike presented St Michael’s with the lead, but with nineteen to play Eoin Hayes buried a Newmarket Celtic spot kick to force extra-time.

In first half injury time Saints ‘keeper Adrian Walsh saved an Eoin O’Brien penalty and the outstanding Walsh also saved Eoin Hayes’ spot kick during the shoot-out.

Christopher Higgins, David Slattery, John O’Brien and Willie Armshaw all did the needful from twelve yards and when Newmarket Celtic responded in kind the responsibility fell to Johnny Kennedy with the Saints’ fifth. Kennedy made no mistake when burying his effort and St Michael’s were left celebrating a terrific success.

Previously in the competition (which pits all of the respective junior league champions in the province against one another) St Michael's accounted for Abbeyfeale United (2-0) and Carrick United (5-0).

St Michael’s previously won this prestigious trophy in 2014.

PREMIER DIVISION

St Michael’s were officially crowned Tipperary South & District League Premier Division champions for the fourth year in succession following a comprehensive win over Tipperary Town on Tuesday, April 16. The Saints have already completed the league double over Clonmel Celtic, Clonmel Town, Vee Rovers, Cahir Park, Tipperary Town, Peake Villa and Old Bridge while their only defeat of the season materialized away to Bansha Celtic. The Saints' remaining league game is at home against Bansha Celtic.

PLAYING SQUAD

The St Michael's first team squad features captain Christopher Higgins, Adrian Walsh, Derek Breen, John O'Brien, Seán Paddy Guerins, Jonathan Kennedy, DJ Cremins, Paul Breen, Joey Mulcahy, Richie Ryan, Shane Ryan, William Armshaw, Jimmy Carr, Rodrigo Concalves, Colin Bargary, David Joyce, David Slattery, Olly O'Driscoll, Eoghan Tinkler, John Connery, Russell Quirke, Danny O'Brien and David Kelly.

The team is managed by James Walsh (manager), John Cremins (assistant manager & coach), Michael Byrne (coach) and physios Thomas Holmes & Pearse Foley.

FURTHER READING

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