Monday 19 March 2018

Cup final verdict

SLIGO can join an elite band of back-to-back cup winners if they perform to their potential in Dublin 4 tomorrow.

An intriguing Ford FAI Cup decider brings together the runners-up in the Premier and First divisions, but it would be stretching it to describe it as a real David versus Goliath clash.

Shels' squad would compete with distinction in the top flight. Sure, they are fortunate to reach this juncture after losing to Sheriff YC in the last 16 only to be reinstated because the junior club had fielded an ineligible player.

Still, by overcoming adversity to triumph in the semi-final epic with St Patrick's Athletic, Alan Mathews' men have clearly proved their credentials.

Sligo are another step up, though, and the wide pitch should play to the strengths of Paul Cook's side, with the passing skills of Richie Ryan and Joseph Ndo (pictured) and the outlet offered by overlapping full-backs Iarflaith Davoren and Alan Keane sure to cause problems.

Mathews has to construct a masterplan that frustrates Sligo's creative midfield in addition to finding some room for his own schemer, David Cassidy, to have an influence.

Don't be surprised if Shels are initially successful. Their manager has a track record of thriving in this kind of situation.

However, the Bit O'Red have a depth of options that could prove decisive. Cook can afford to leave quality in reserve and spring them if his team are in a tight spot.

Sligo should also be fresher after a relaxed end to their season in comparison with the frantic conclusion to the First Division.

Last year's win over Shamrock Rovers went the distance, but Cook's men can regain the trophy in regulation time.

VERDICT: Sligo Rovers

Irish Independent

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