Team News: Shelbourne V St Pat's Athletic

  • Fri, Oct 14, 2011 @ 10:11

Shelbourne will have to overcome their city rivals from Inchicore if they are to reach their first FAI Cup final since 2000.

Tolka Park hosted some big European nights in the middle part of the last decade, but Shels' fans have become accustomed to more sedate fare since they were demoted in 2007 as a result of their financial problems.

But the TV cameras will be back by the banks of the Tolka tonight, resulting in an earlier kick-off time of 7.35pm than the Shels faithful will be used to.

The hosts held a 10-point lead in the First Division at one stage this season, but their form has tailed off of late and now lie one point behind Cork City, albeit with a game in hand.

Shels come into the game on the back of defeats to Monaghan United and Waterford United, but manager Alan Mathews has insisted his side were victims of some incorrect refereeing decisions in those games.

But Mathews is confident his charges can lift themselves again with the prospect of success on two fronts between now and the end of the season.

Shels are fortunate to still be in the competition as they had been beaten 3-2 by Sherriff YC. However the non-league outfit were found to have fielded and illegible player and, after an appeal to the FAI, Shelbourne were reinstated.

The Reds made the most their reprieve by beating fellow First Division side Limerick 4-3 in the quarter-finals. They had striker Philly Hughes' hat-trick to thank for squeezing them through.

Mathews is now backing his men to finish the season strongly.
"We've had a great run. We're still in pole position as far as we're concerned because our destiny is very much in our own hands," the former Longford Town boss said.

"We're disappointed with a couple of results of late but we've got every faith and belief in the players we have that we will maximise the opportunities that have been presented to us.

"This is the first one, which is a semi-final, and our performance in Limerick showed hunger and desire to get to this stage.

"We're here now and we'll have to show at least that level of commitment and honesty in our workrate if we're trying to match St Pat's, who are going to be very difficult opponents."

He admitted the "stark contrast" between the pace and tempo of the Premier and First Divisions will be a challenge for his side.

A draw tonight would result in a replay, but Mathews would gladly endure fixture congestion if that is what it takes.
"I certainly would not be worried or concerned if we have a replay and end up in a cup final. I'll take whatever way the game goes on Friday."

St Pat's would no doubt have similar sentiments, as they bid to end a 50-year FAI Cup hoodoo.
Their history in this competition may not be glorious, but they did land the Leinster Senior Cup on Monday with a 2-0 win over Bohemians.

"There is a good mood in the camp this week buoyed by Monday's Leinster Senior Cup success" manager Pete Mahon said.
"We couldn't enjoy the win, except for five minutes afterwards as we are fully focused on this match.

"There is a bit of pressure on us to win due to the time since the club's last (FAI) Cup success. This is something which everyone is well aware of."

Mahon is particularly motivated by the chance to take his side to the revamped stadium on Lansdowne Road.

"We have been told how much of a great experience it is to play at the Aviva Stadium and we want to be one of the teams who line out for November's final.


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