Friday 23 March 2018

Pay-to-play Crowe looking to write new Cup fairytale

Glen Crowe celebrates after scoring for Bohemians in the 2008 Ford FAI Cup final
Glen Crowe celebrates after scoring for Bohemians in the 2008 Ford FAI Cup final

Garry Doyle

Remember Glen Crowe? Twice capped by Ireland, a bronze medal winner at the U-20 World Cup, scorer of 159 League of Ireland goals and a winner of five League of Ireland titles and the FAI Cup twice.

Well, he's back – for one night only. At 36, his best days may be behind him, but the FAI Cup has a habit of reintroducing us to old faces and tonight it is Crowe's chance to recapture his past.

These days, he plays for St Mochta's – a Leinster Senior League side – and the memories of starting up front for Ireland against Greece or coming on as a sub against Norway in Lansdowne Road are long gone.

So, too, are the generous salaries he once earned for being a good footballer. At Shelbourne, during the League of Ireland's boom years, he took home nearly €100,000 a year. Now he is one of the guys who pays €15-a-week subs and buys his own training gear.

He could walk away, point at an old injury and thank the game for the memories.

"Footballers have the need to feel a ball at their feet," said his former Bohs and now Mochta's team-mate Paul McNally. "Giving up ain't easy."

Especially when you have still got it – 'it' being the ability to find the net, which Crowe managed 24 times in 26 league games this season as the west Dublin club won a second successive promotion since he arrived there 18 months ago.

"In that time, he has never missed a training session," said McNally, who – at 39 – came out of retirement because he realised he wanted more than "just a kick-about in a park".

Tonight the former title winner's weekend begins in Turner's Cross, where Mochta's hope for a miracle against Cork City but fear a calamity.

Crowe, however, fears nothing. While he has nothing left to prove, there remains that urge to get an adrenaline rush by testing himself against the second best team in the country.

FAI Cup 2nd Round Previews

Belgrove/Home Farm v Finn Harps

(Frank Cooke Park, 7.30)

FAI Cup wins: Belgrove/Home Farm 1 (1975, as Home Farm); Finn Harps 1 (1974)

Cup odds (to win cup outright): Belgrove/ Home Farm 200/1, Finn Harps 80/1.

Referee: S Rogers (Dublin)

Talking point: With just three league wins all season, Harps won't be getting out of the First Division any time soon. But they should be good enough to move into the third-round draw.

Verdict: Away win

Athlone Town v Longford Town

(Athlone Town Stadium, 7.45)

FAI Cup titles: Athlone Town 1 (1924); Longford Town 2 (last in 2004)

Cup odds: Athlone Town 50/1, Longford Town 50/1.

Referee: J McLoughlin (Roscommon)

Talking point: Both teams have shown signs of getting their act together recently, but Athlone are favoured on the basis of being tested at a higher level all year.

Verdict: Home win

Cork City v St Mochta's

(Turner's Cross, 7.45)

FAI Cup wins: Cork City 2 (last in 2007); St Mochta's 0

Cup odds: Cork City 13/2, St Mochta's 400/1

Referee: K Callanan (Cork)

Talking point: St Mochta's bring three former LOI title winners – Bobby Ryan, Glen Crowe and Paul McNally – to Turner's Cross which suggests, on the surface, that they have a chance. In reality, they will do well to avoid a hammering.

Verdict: Home win

Dundalk v Sligo Rovers

(Oriel Park, 7.45)

FAI Cup wins: Dundalk 9 (last in 2002); Sligo Rovers 5 (last in 2013)

Cup odds: Dundalk 6/1, Sligo Rovers 15/2

Referee: P Tuite (Dublin)

Talking point: Can Sligo rescue their season? Out of the running for the league and knocked out of the EA Sports Cup, their season will be judged a failure if they have just a Setanta Cup triumph to reflect upon. Dundalk, who are top of the league, have revenge on their minds after losing that Setanta Cup final last month.

Verdict: Home win

St Pat's CY v St Pat's Ath

(Richmond Park, 7.45)

FAI Cup wins: St Patrick's CY 0; St Patrick's Athletic 2 (last in 1961)

Cup odds: St Patrick's CY 300/1, St Patrick's Athletic 7/2

Talking point: After scoring 11 goals in two games, Liam Buckley's St Pat's meet their non-league namesakes and are unlikely to be merciful as they chase a prize that has been beyond reach for over half a century.

Referee: R Rogers (Dublin)

Verdict: Away win

UCD v Galway

(The UCD Bowl, 7.45)

FAI Cup wins: UCD 1 (1984); Galway 0

Cup odds: UCD 40/1, Galway 66/1

Referee: D McKeon (Dublin)

Talking point: If Galway are to emulate their county's predecessors Galway United by capturing the FAI Cup, then they have to overcome a tricky opening hurdle. UCD have too strong a defence, though, and could be the competition's dark horses.

Verdict: Home win

Drogheda Utd v Cockhill Celtic

(United Park, 8.0)

FAI Cup wins: Drogheda United 1 (2005); Cockhill Celtic 0

Cup odds: Drogheda United 22/1, Cockhill Celtic 200/1

Referee: N Doyle (Dublin)

Talking point: Drogheda have been at crisis point since April after their fine start to the season came to an abrupt end. This should provide some respite, however temporary.

Verdict: Home win

Shelbourne v Waterford Utd

(Tolka Park, 8.0)

FAI Cup wins: Shelbourne 7 (last in 2000); Waterford 2 (last in 1980)

Referee: R Harvey (Dublin)

Talking point: Shelbourne's superb start to the season owes much to John McDonnell's shrewd management. A cup run would surprise no one.

Verdict: Home win

Wexford Youths v Bray Wds

(Ferrycarrig Park, 8.0)

FAI Cup wins: Wexford Youths 0; Bray Wanderers 2 (last in 1999)

Referee: A Mullally (Waterford)

Talking point: Bray's mean defence has brought them unexpected wins over Dundalk and Sligo. They should get another one here.

Verdict: Away win

Irish Independent

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