We are one set of fixtures away from the always eagerly anticipated Open Draw.
However, while FAI Junior Cup followers always have some cross county match ups to rejoice in come round 5 time round 4 hasn’t disappointed in terms of serving up mouthwatering match ups.
The fourth round has thrown up some intriguing encounters not least two big derbies.
Usher Celtic vs Sheriff YC
Three seasons ago this would have been down as routine win for Sheriff, last year it would have been deemed a good draw, but at the present moment it’s possibly the tie of a round that threw up a massive Ballynanty Janesboro clash.
Over the last 12 months Usher have established themselves as the all conquering Sheriff’s biggest AUL Premier A threat.
The rivalry hasn’t quite produced the level of excitement and tension on display when a peak Kilbarrack were going up against Alan Reilly’s men, but things are heading in that direction.
Indeed their league meeting in late October proved a nice appetizer for this cup clash. FAI Junior Cup three in a row hopefuls Sheriff won by a single Wayne Waldron goal, but the game had a nice degree of bite to it. Usher also played brilliant football in patches and have a coaching set up that will be confident with a few amendments they could alter that result.
The respect Alan Reilly showed Usher in the last encouther highlights the potential they have to cause an upset. Although Sheriff will go in as favourites and considering what they have achieved rightfully so.
This one will be tense, full of fight and bite. However, with the likes of the Murphy’s, Jon Rock, Darren Dunne, John Lester, Steven Donnelly and Jordan Buckley all taking to the field it will also see some of the best junior talent pitted against each other.
Our report from the last time they played each other
Janesboro vs Ballynanty
This clash- like Usher vs Sheriff- is on of those draws that have some people waxing lyrical about the current format and some bemoaning the fact the tournament isn’t open draw from the off.
Those who favour the system delight in the fact the FAI Junior Cup throws big games up from the off, while others bemoan the fact big teams are guaranteed to exit early.
By the time this one is over one of the big names and fancied sides in Limerick’s Road to Aviva journey will be over.
Just like the matching of Pike Rovers and Carew Park resulted in a fancied Carew side exiting stage left Janesboro versus Ballynanty will mean two of the five Limerick district league sides backed to make the latter stages will be definitely out.
One of Janesboro and Ballynanty will be dumped out of the competition before the open draw while Pike and Nenagh are still in with a chance of reaching round five.
However, regardless of the stage this game plays out in it has tie of the round potential. With so much at stage it could prove tight, tense and low scoring like Carew and Pike, but the last time they meet Balla won by the odd goal in five.
The game also means some of the divisions form and big name players will come face to face in knock out competition.
OUR REPORT FROM THE LAST TIME THEY PLAYED:
Malahide United v Tolka Rovers FC
Crumlin United are the LSL Saturday always expected to reach the open draw. However, the perennial Major Saturday winners are no more in the prestigious contest and that’s due to Tolka Rovers.
The Frank Cooke Park side registered one of the shocks of round 3 thanks to a Marko Trnak winner. The result instantly made Tolka an LSL Saturday side to look out for.
The now take on another fancied Saturday outfit in Malahide United for a place in the open draw.
Malahide play a division higher than Tolka and also have a victory over Crumlin this season, indeed they are the only team to beat Crumlin in the league. The young side will be confident of a result and both teams will be aware some massive occasions could await if they progress over the weekend.
Our report from Tolka’s win over Crumlin:
St. Pauls Artane FC v Trim Celtic
Having cut short Hardwicke’s FAI Junior Cup campaign Trim Celtic will be all out for another scalp when they take on St Pauls Artane.
The Meath side are currently top of the NEFL Premier Division having just lost once this season. They come into the clash in fine form and with some quality players to chose from. Lar Ivers, who will be know around the Dublin circuit after his spells as a goal getter in the AUL and LSL, scored a hat trick in Trim’s win over a young but talented Hardwicke side. However, with 13 goals already this season Brian Faulkner might be the real danger man.
Pauls on the other hand have had a poor start to life back in Premier B. One point from their opening five games isn’t ideal, but they have performed admirably in the cup.
It’s certainly an intriguing cross league battle and one that should generate interest.
Our report from Trims defeat of Hardwicke:
Regional Utd v Nenagh FC
It’s not quite Janesboro vs Ballynanty, but it is an intriguing Limerick top flight game none the less.
Having finished second in the Limerick top flight last year Nenagh were tipped to make an impact in the FAI Junior this time around.
The side with a pure footballing approach had dark horses written all over them.
However, they have been replaced as champion and current league leaders Janesboro’s main rivals in terms of league position by Janesboro so far this season.
Regional currently sit second in the Limerick top flight and were unbeaten up and until they lost to 2015/16 finalists Pike Rovers the weekend just gone.
On the other hand Limerick playing Tipp side Nenagh haven’t won in six and with home advantage Regional, who reached the quarter finals last season, may be slight favourites to progress.