At first glance the 2017/18 FAI Junior Cup third round didn’t throw up as many mouthwatering clashes as it has in recent years.
However, upon further investigation its clear to see while their might be only one clash of the titans set to play out this month there are a number of ties made intriguing for differing reasons.
We have picked five stand out ties from the round and while we will be keeping a close watch on every game these are ones that caught our attention the most
Carew Park versus Pike Rovers
Quite possibly the tie of the round- and that’s saying something considering the volume of games to be decided in the third round.
Carew Park versus Pike Rovers is an intriguing battle of Limerick big guns. Both were fancied for a long trip along the Road to the Aviva and both were at least expected to make open draw stage.
However the round 4 hat will be void of at least one of the Limerick names as the pair go to battle on the weekend of October 20.
Considering Pike have reached the final as recent as two seasons ago they may be the better known and thus more fancied by those outside of the Treaty County. However, Carew have won the Limerick District Premier title more recent than their Limerick City neighbours and have enjoyed a better start to the season.
Pike are mid a managerial player and while they have a Junior International’s among their ranks they have lost a few players in recent weeks. One player to depart was John Connery, who was key in their 2015/16 FAI Junior run. the front man is now leading the line for Carew.
Carew can also lay claim to one of the form players in Junior football. Kieran ‘Red’ Hanlon is closing in on 20 goals of the season and the attacking midfielder could prove crucial in this clash.
Regardless of personnel or form this one has enough history and natural rivalry to make it a must watch knock out game.
Tolka Rovers vs Crumlin United
Tolka and Crumlin was a massive Intermediate rivalry just a number of season ago.It’s not that long ago that the pair were Senior Sunday front runners and indeed FAI Intermediate Cup final opponents.
The big Dublin clubs meet again in October, but this time it’s there Saturday side’s in the FAI Junior Cup. If the games are anything like the first teams encouthers of a number of years ago the neutral is in for a treat, but this is a whole different ball game.
This Crumlin side isn’t so much a second string, but a young side with major ambitions of their own. They are currently top of Major Saturday thanks to seven wins from seven and with 27 league goals in the bank. They are going for the seventh consecutive league title, but you get the feeling that the team that will represent the LSL in the Oscar Traynor want more.
They have made the open draw of the FAI Junior in recent seasons, but could at this moment in time have a side that is quarter final capable and if they overcome their Dublin rivals in round 3 a lot of teams would like to avoid them in the next round.
The Pearse Park side, who have young attacker Leon Foley particularly in good form, will be favourites to beat Tolka, who play three Saturday divisions below them, but Rovers are under a rebuild and may will certainly be all out to scalp the ultra successful Saturday side.
Newlands/Castle Park FC vs Howth Celtic
Reigning FAI Intermediate Cup champions Liffey Wanderers proved back in 2015 that Major Sunday is a division that hosts teams with FAI Junior Cup capabilities.
The last team to beat Sheriff in the contest put the LSL fifth tier on the FAI Junior map and the arrival of the likes of current Leinster Junior Cup winners Collinstown, recent FAI Junior finalists Kilbarrack United and indeed former CCFL giants Willow Park have made it a division likely to have an impact along the Road to the Aviva.
Interestingly enough Major Sunday is currently being lead by the lesser know Newlands/Castle Park which makes their clash with Howth Celtic one to watch out for.
It’s not as mouthwatering as last years Collinstown versus Sheriff or Kilbarrack ties, but it’s the first of what could prove to be a few big LSL Major vs AUL Premier A clashes spotted along the Road to the Aviva.
Newlands will see this has a big chance to register a scalp and a win that could fill them with the kind of confidence that could help them to continue an Intermediate promotion push.
Howth, who were extremely impressive in Premier B last season, haven’t hit the ground running in Premier A this term. Indeed, they have yet to pick up a point in five top flight games.
They have registered cup wins, but Newlands will be the form side heading into this clash and will be hopeful they can be the first Major LSL side to scalp Premier A opponents.
North End vs Crettyard United
It’s a case of revenge or repeat in this interesting pairing.
Crettyard United were spot on as they knocked North End United out of last seasons FAI Junior Instalment. The Carlow side registered somewhat of a scalp beating North End United on penalties in round 4.
North End have been the leading Wexford light in the competition in recent seasons appearing in quarter and even semi finals of late and would have been more than upset to have exited so early.
They can enact revenge by beating the current Carlow Champions, who eventually went out to Navan Cosmos in round 5 last season, this month.
Home advantage could prove key for the Wexford side and they do enter the game with a host of former League of Ireland players available for selection including talismanic front man Paul Murphy.
Clonmel Town vs Peake Villa
Neither side have started as well as second favourites for the tournament St Michaels, Clonmel Celtic or even Bansha Celtic, but this is the best Tipperary has to offer in the round none the less.
Any cup battle between top flight sides grabs the attention and this one is no different. In different league form won’t count for much as both hope to take a step along the road to the Aviva.
Indeed, both sides have shown good cup acumen in recent seasons. A young Peake side saw interest peak in their approach as they reached the quarters last season. Only eventually winners Sheriff could halt Villa’s progress- the Dublin side knocked them out at the quarter final stage.
Town on the other hand were semi finalists two years ago and only excited to a strong Pike Rovers side at the last 16 stage last season.
With both currently in mid table in the league they would have been hoping for a bit of a cup run to lift spirits, but after they were drawn together in round 3 only one will have FAI Junior Cup football to look forward to come November time.