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Final push is Cronin's call

SHELBOURNE captain Glen Cronin believes that the Reds have underachieved in 2012 - and the only way to rectify that is by reaching the FAI Cup final by knocking Derry City out of the competition tonight.

Unlike their Dublin rivals Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers, Shels can still finish the season with a major trophy to show for their efforts as they will meet St Patrick's Athletic in the Cup final next month, if they can get past Derry in tonight's semi-final replay at Tolka Park.

Shels do have a lot going for them, notably the experience of players like Chris Bennion, Stephen Paisley and Philip Hughes, as well as the remarkable Cup record of their manager Alan Mathews. "I only heard the other day that Alan has never lost a semi-final as manager, so I hope that record carries on," says Cronin.

But what counts against Shels is a dismal home record (one draw and five defeats from the last six league games at Tolka Park) and poor form overall in the Premier Division which has seen the Reds win just once, against bottom side Dundalk, since July.


"This is not where we wanted to be in the league and we have definitely underachieved as a team this season," says Cronin.

"We had a really decent start to the league with two wins and draw from three very hard games, we drew with Sligo in the very first game and we deserved to beat them.

"But over the last few weeks our league form has just tailed off. We want to achieve something this year and now for that to happen we have to get to the Cup final and go on to win it.

"It would be a massive disappointment if we lost tonight as our season would be over. We need to keep our season alive so we have to get to the Cup final at least," added the former Bohemians man.

Early on in Sunday's game in Derry the Shels fans were ecstatic as a David Cassidy goal had given Mathews' side the lead, but Shels appeared to back off after going in front and Derry came back to equalise through David McDaid.

"We're disappointed that we didn't go through on the day, when you're 1-0 up away from home you expect to win the game but that didn't happen," says Cronin.

"We knew Derry would come back at us, they were playing down 'the hill' at the Brandywell in the second half and that suits them.

"They were able to get the goal they needed to force the replay, but it wasn't a case of us sitting back and holding onto our lead, they were a decent side and we have to give them credit."

With the outcome of the other semi-final settled on Sunday - Pat's winning 3-0 away to Dundalk - the two sides tonight have a clearer idea of what will face them in the final at Lansdowne Road next month.

And Cronin, who has branched out into his own coaching career by working with CIE Ranch, says that a Dublin derby against Pat's would be a dream final.

"Getting to play in the Aviva would be a big deal for any player but especially for us. Some of the lads in this squad were here at Shels last season when they lost the final to Sligo and they will want another crack at it," he says.

"For me to play there would be brilliant. You'd hope that Pat's and Shels would draw a big crowd for the final - but we have to get there first," he added.