Soccer – Aviva Final for Limerick’s Pike Rovers

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FIVE years after their sole FAI Junior Cup triumph, Pike Rovers are potentially 90 minutes away from repeating the feat as they head for the Aviva Stadium for the 2016 final against Sheriff YC from Dublin.
Mike Shiels’ side will be the bookies’ underdogs at the national stadium on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 4pm) against last year’s runners-up, who were winners of the competition in 2012 and 2013.
The Hoops are the second Limerick team to reach the FAI Junior Cup final in three years and they will hope to have better fortune at the Aviva Stadium than Ballynanty Rovers, who came out second best against St Michael’s in 2014.
Pike have battled through eight games since September to make it to the decider, which they reached courtesy of a last-gasp 2-0 win over Athlone club St Peter’s in Tullamore in last month’s semi-final.
Prior to that dramatic victory, the Pat Mullins-skippered side got the better of Newport Town (5-0), Summerville Rovers (6-0), Ballynanty Rovers (4-1), VEC FC (2-0), Villa FC (3-1), Clonmel Celtic (4-0) and Glengad United (4-0).
If Pike win their second FAI Junior Cup, it will go down as an unforgettable weekend for junior soccer in Limerick. The Hoops will hope to enjoy the sort of form that the city’s senior representatives have been showing of late, with Limerick FC extending their winning run in the First Division to 10 games last Saturday.
Martin Russell’s side triumphed 3-0 away to Cobh Ramblers, with Shane Tracy, Lee-J Lynch and Sean Russell on target for the Super Blues, who remain 12 points clear at the top of the table.
Indeed, it has taken Limerick just 10 matches to surpass their points tally from the entirety of last season.
Speaking after the game, Russell said: “[Cobh] is a tough place to go. I think we gave a very professional performance.
“We defended when we had to defend, kept a clean sheet and scored three goals away from home. I’m pleased with all things.”
Their next game sees them welcome Athlone Town to Markets Field on Friday evening (kick-off 7:15pm), the match being brought forward from Saturday to allow soccer supporters from the city to travel to Dublin for the FAI Junior Cup final.