The schedule for this year’s FAI Cup quarter-finals has a slightly disjointed look to it due to a number of fixture factors as Galway United host Shamrock Rovers on Friday night (6th Sept) with Sligo Rovers v UCD the following night prior to Waterford FC v Dundalk next Monday, while Crumlin United will not host Bohemians until September 16th due to the “Gypsies” involvement in the Scottish Challenge Cup.
Critics have raised a question of disrespect being shown towards the historic cup competition with the FAI being accused of giving prominence to another nation’s minor cup competition over their own FAI Cup, but nonetheless, all eight sides left in the competition will have dreams of an Aviva final appearance come season’s end.
*Listen to Kieran Burke’s audio previews ahead of Friday night’s League of Ireland & FAI Cup action*
Galway United v Shamrock Rovers – Fri, Sep 6th, 7:45pm
Galway United survived a potential banana skin moment in the opening round of this year’s FAI Cup as the Tribesmen came from behind against non-league Collinstown to progress 2-1 away from home thanks to a Conor Barry double.
Given the unconvincing manner of that performance from a side who have really struggled in the First Division this season, nobody could have foreseen Alan Murphy’s charges dumping the finalists of the past four seasons, Cork City, out of the cup at Eamon Deacy Park.
However, a late Conor Melody goal achieved just that in what would prove to be John Cotter’s final game in charge as interim boss of Cork City.
Of course, Cork City have really struggled in the top-flight this term so for Galway to go any further in this competition would take the upset of all upsets as league giants Shamrock Rovers come to town.
Shamrock Rovers finally got the monkey off their back by defeating old foes Bohemians in the Dublin derby last time out to end a two-year winless streak against their Dublin rivals. Graham Burke’s goal at the Tallaght Stadium extended the “Hoops” unbeaten domestic run to 11 matches (excluding the Leinster Senior Cup) and Stephen Bradley’s side have now won six matches in a row!
Galway United’s story couldn’t be any more different with the “Tribesmen” just two points clear of the bottom two (Athlone & Wexford) in the First Division as the 2014 play-off winners endure a season of cost-cutting and relying on young players.
However, United are on a 3-match winning streak with their last defeat coming at home to title-chasing Drogheda United on August 2nd.
This is essentially a cup final of sorts for the hosts, whose season will effectively die with a defeat here as avoiding the wooden spoon in their second-tier is the only other topic of for debate in the Tribes 2019 campaign.
As a result, expect this youthful Galway side to up their game in front of what should be a large home crowd, but it’s fair to say United have not come across opposition like Shamrock Rovers this season…..top class.
Shamrock Rovers have won 10 of 15 league matches on the road this season (only Dundalk fare better away from home, claiming 2 points more than Rovers 31 away points) and while this may be a tricky prospect for the record FAI Cup winners, the “Hoops” should have more than enough class to comfortably overcome Galway in the end with the hosts ONLY WINNING TWO HOME GAMES ALL SEASON in the First Division (P12, W2, D3, L7).
Shamrock Rovers -2 offers some value at 23/20.
Sligo Rovers v UCD – Sat, Sep 7th, 7:45pm
Experienced manager Liam Buckley was brought in to steady the ship at Sligo after a couple of seasons flirting with relegation from the top-flight and it’s fair to say that’s exactly what the former league winner with St.Pat’s has achieved in his debut season at the Showgrounds.
Last week’s brilliant 4-2 win at Turners Cross meant the “Bit O’Red” stayed ahead of Cork City in 6th, a position that would qualify Sligo Rovers for next season’s Scottish Challenge Cup.
UCD on the other hand recently parted ways with their popular boss Collie O’Neill and the “Students” are looking certain for automatic relegation, trailing Finn Harps by 6 points and having played a game more.
UCD hold a goal difference of -51 in the top-flight this season and have shipped 21 goals in their last five matches in all competitions. Despite such a horrendous run of form, UCD caused an upset in the last round of this competition by knocking St.Pat’s out of the cup after a 3-1 home win.
Sligo have been scoring goals for fun in this year’s FAI Cup with the “Bit O’Red” notching up 14 goals in their two matches, although the 6-2 home win over Limerick FC is now under investigation after a number of suspicious betting patterns emerged involving the Munster club this season.
UCD lost 5-1 on their most recent visit to the Showgrounds on the opening day of July, while further 1-0 and 2-0 victories mean Liam Buckley’s men hold a 100% record against the “Students” this term.
Sligo Rovers -1 looks a very safe bet, just shy of even money at 10/11 as does Sligo Rovers to win in a game with over 1.5 goals at 1/2. It won’t make you rich but, at those odds, you should certainly make some profit from Saturday’s game at the Showgrounds.
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