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Crumlin eye fifth trophy

IT WAS a rare moment, for the media-savvy Robbie Keane to be stumped by a question from the media.

In his press conference before Ireland's friendly against Paraguay last week, the Ireland captain was asked if he'd watched his former club play in a big game the previous Saturday. "What game was that?" answered a confused Keane to a question about Inter Milan and their Champions League final win over Bayern Munich. "I thought you were talking about Crumlin United in some cup," he added.

But Crumlin, Keane's schoolboy club, achieved a similar feat to Inter Milan this season and gathered up four trophies, winning almost everything available, and the side have another test tonight as they head for Donegal to take on Finn Harps in the FAI Ford Cup.

Beating Finn Harps is hardly on the same scale as winning the Champions League -- Harps have lost seven of their 16 games this season -- but it would be a real achievement for Crumlin United to knock the Donegal side out of the Cup and extend their season even further.

"We did very well in the FAI Cup last season, we knocked out Shels and then were unlucky to lose to Waterford United after we took them to a replay, so we can feel confident in ourselves going up there today," said Crumlin manager Martin Loughran.

"It's been a long season for us. I think this will be our 49th game of the season tonight and our 34th game since Christmas, but I'm not complaining as we won four trophies on that run of games.

"And I don't think that fatigue or fitness will be factor for us, we have a very fit, young squad. Paul McCabe is 30 and he's the oldest player in the squad here at Crumlin. It is a big ask to go to Finn Park and win but I think we can do it," added Loughran.

Crumlin have been to Finn Park before, as they played Harps there in the first round of the FAI Cup in 2006, losing 1-0, but since then United have established a nice Cup record for themselves, and last season saw the Dublin side play four superb games.

They drew 1-1 with Shelbourne in Tolka Park, Shels very lucky to get a replay as they came from behind in the game, and in the replay Crumlin beat the Reds 1-0. In the next round Crumlin were drawn at home to an in-form Waterford United, and even though the Blues had won six of their seven league games going into the Cup tie they were held 0-0, and four days later Waterford came out on top in the replay, winning 2-0.

Harps have had some serious problems on and off the field this season, the club recently claiming that their long-term future was in jeopardy unless a serious cash injection was made.

On the field, James Gallagher's side have struggled, losing three of their first five league games and at one stage they went five weeks without a win. The squad situation was so dire at one point, with two goalkeepers missing, that manager Gallagher had to come out of retirement and play in the last three matches, though it's worked as he kept three clean sheets.

"This is a game that all League of Ireland clubs would be nervous about," said former Celtic and Pats man Gallagher.

"The opportunity is there for us to move on to the next round but it's a tricky game."