It’s FAI Round 2 week! Round 2 week has always had more than a little bit of magic about it for me. 32 teams, 16 games; 12 non-league sides joining the 20 league boys. Potential giant-killings and upsets. The formbook from the league goes out the window. At the end of the quest that begins this week lies not just the FAI Cup [that will be lifted for the 99th time] but also a place in the 2020-21 Europa League.
There are three all non-league ties; St Michaels against Glengad United, Crumlin United against Malahide United and Lucan United against KillesterUnited. If you add in the three ties that feature a non-league side and a First Division side [Cobh Wanderers against Limerick, Drogheda against Avondale United and Collinstown against Galway United] and the all First Division clash between Longford Town and Athlone Town, that makes seventeams from outside the Premier Division progressing through to the last 16.
Some of the Premier League sides won’t find it easy to progress. Cork against Cabinteely is a case in point. In previous seasons a trip to Stradbrookwouldn’t have presented Cork with too many sleepless nights, but with the Leesiders struggling in the Premier and Cabinteely aiming for promotion in the First Division, this tie is too close to call. Don’tforget Pat Devlin’s Cup-winning pedigree too.
Sligo Rovers will be given a run for their money in Balbriggan when they face Glebe North, and Cobh Ramblers will be on a high after beating Shelbournelast week and looking forward to the visit of Dundalk. Waterford’s trip to Maynooth is another potential banana skin for a Premier Division side.
I’ve been looking forward to this week since the draw was made earlier in the summer. I’ll probably end up in Inchicore for Bray’s trip to face former boss Harry Kenny’s current charges on the Friday night. We may be down in the First Division this term but the Cup is a great leveller and we have won it before as a First Division team [in 1990].
If I have one wish above all else for this year’s FAI Cup then it is that we end up with a final that doesn’tinvolve both Cork and Dundalk. We’ve had this pairing for the last four years running. One or other of them is fine, so long as they are playing a different finalist.