Sunday 18 February 2018

Porto eyeing major upset in Cup clash


Paul Byrne

Having already secured confirmation that they are allowed play their Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup tie against St Patrick's Athletic at home, Portmarnock can now concentrate on trying to pull off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory.

Willie O'Leary's side will take on Liam Buckley's in-form Premier Division outfit this Sunday at 2pm in front of what is expected to be a big crowd at Paddy's Hill, and all week Portmarnock chairman Craig Bolton has been rousing the troops trying to ensure that everything is in place for the big game this weekend.

"This is a great draw for the club and we were determined to host it in Paddy's Hill. However, in order to do this we needed and got support from all our members," explained Bolton.

"There are very stringent FAI and Garda rules to follow to make this happen, such as needing a minimum of 30 stewards on duty on the day. The opportunity to host League of Ireland opposition doesn't come along too often, but we're confident that with the support, help and backing of our members we are ready to greet our opponents in our home ground on Sunday," he added.

These are good days for all involved with the club. Since O'Leary took over in the hot seat, Porto have enjoyed three promotions in succession, culminating in May's rise to the Senior Sunday, the highest level available in Intermediate soccer. And what better way to kick off the new season than a glamour tie against St Pat's?

Portmarnock have good memories of this competition and chairman Bolton has more than most, given that he was part of the famous Porto side which dumped Dundalk out of the cup back in

2001. They then went on to give Stephen Kenny's Longford side a major fright in the quarter-finals, leading 1-0 at half-time, before eventually bowing out 2-1 after a titanic battle.

The odds will once again be stacked against the north Dublin side, but as key player Graham Rusk (pictured above) states this is a game which everybody involved with the club is looking forward to.

"We have a decent squad this year and we have strengthened in certain areas where we feel we needed to improve,'' the former Drogheda United, Athlone Town and UCD forward began.

''We have a lot of League of Ireland experience in the team with myself, Brian Kane, Gareth Whelan and now Conor Powell who recently joined up with us.

''Obviously, we know it's going to be a really tough game for us on Sunday, but at the same time we know what is required if we are to go and beat Pats.

"They have found their form again recently and we know we face a huge challenge to match them, especially as we are in pre-season and they are halfway through their campaign. But there's nothing we can do about that, so we will just get on with it and give it our best.

"This Portmarnock team always seem to raise their game for the big matches and there is no reason why we can't do that on Sunday.

''We have a great squad, great team spirit and importantly we have developed a winning mentality in recent years, so we're hopeful that will stand to us this weekend.

"The whole parish will be up supporting us. All our family, all our friends and pretty much everybody in the area will be there, so it's up to us to put on a show for them and to do them proud."

Fingal Independent

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