Over 600 teams started on the journey but now after 5 rounds played, Newport are one of the last 32 teams remaining on the Road to the Aviva. This coming Sunday afternoon, we make the short journey in the R503 road to play Premier League side Aisling Annacotty in Round 6 of the FAI Junior Cup. Before the draw was made for this round, we were hoping for a home draw, but if it was away, we wondered if we would be sent to the far-reaches of the country. Instead we were given one of the closest possible away draws, as it’s just over 12km from Derryleigh Park to Annacotty. Aisling Annacotty are the hot favourites heading into the game and must have been secretly delighted to have drawn a side from Div 1B of the Limerick League in the last 32 of the Blue Riband trophy of Irish junior soccer.
Newport are the firm underdogs going into this cup tie. We have played 5 games to get to this stage beating Northside Legacy (3-0), Dromore (6-1), Patrickswell (5-2), Granville (4-2) & Carbury (Sligo) on pens after the game ended 2-2 after both normal time & extra time. Christy Doyle & Davy Ryan have both scored 5 goals, team Captain, Brian ‘Clemy ‘O’Sullivan (4), Kalem Harte (2), Sean Ryan (2), Elliott Slattery (1) & Dave Kennedy (1) have scored the 20 goals to get us this far. Newport are well capable of scoring goals, as Doyler (27) and Clemy (14) have a combined tally of 41 goals in all competitions this season and no doubt, Aisling will see the 2 lads as the main Newport goal-scoring threat. However we have plenty of other players on the pitch well-capable of scoring given the opportunity.
Aisling are currently in 6th place in the Limerick Premier League and are the odds-on bookies’ favourites to progress to the last 16, especially as the game is being played on their astro-turf pitch, a surface that they are well used to playing on. To get to this stage, Aisling have beaten Athlunkard, Caherdavin, & Prospect and in the last round recorded an excellent 4-0 win away to Blarney.
Round 5 was new territory for Newport so the last 32 is a huge bonus and another step along an unknown path. However we know that a large Newport crowd intend travelling to the game and they will give the lads plenty of vocal support and encouragement during the game. The players will have learnt a lot about playing on the big stage after the last game against Carbury and they will have absolutely no doubts that if they give it their very best shot, they are more than capable of causing a potential cup upset.
We look forward to seeing a big Newport support on the day and encourage everyone to come along and get to the game early and get behind the players right from the kick-off at 2.15pm. Days like this don’t come along too often and we have nothing to lose as nobody expects us to win but ourselves.