Up for the Cup: 2015
Firhouse Clover are one of a dozen non-league clubs competing in the second round of the FAI Cup this week. Firhouse will face Bohemians at Dalymount Park and a veteran striker who has been merciless in front of goal against underdogs in his career.
Jason Byrne has scored a brace in each of his last four Cup games against non-league teams – Wayside Celtic, Drogheda Town, Mayfield United and Glenville – all for Bohs and he was a substitute in two of those.
Four non-league clubs have reached the quarter-finals since the switch to summer football – Rockmount (2004), Killester United (2006), Wayside Celtic (2008) and Avondale United (2014). No non-league team has reached the FAI Cup semi-finals since St Francis went all the way to the final in 1990.
Out of 8 ties last season between League and non-league clubs, only Avondale took it to a replay, against Finn Harps. Bluebell United knocked out Athlone Town in 2013.
Aside from Killester’s walkover against Dublin City, Drogheda United and Sligo Rovers were the last Premier Division clubs to be knocked out of the Cup by non-league teams.
They lost to Bangor Celtic and Bluebell United and they were both relegated that 1999-00 season. Drumcondra have more wins as a non-league club over League teams than anyone else (6) while Dundalk have suffered more than any other League side (6).
Dundalk were drawn at home to Shelbourne, of the First Division, but interestingly they are the only reigning League of Ireland champions to have ever lost to a non-league team in the FAI Cup (Cobh Ramblers in 1983).
With Shels getting the toughest possible tie, it’s likely that Athlone and Shelbourne will avoid each other for the 40th successive year.
Athlone welcome Liffey Wanderers to Lissywollen, hoping to put an end to their dreadful FAI Cup and League Cup record in recent years – in their last 12 ties the Town have been eliminated in all of them.
Shamrock Rovers travel to St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday, the only non-league side to knock Rovers out of the Cup. In the 1949 first round replay, the Saints sensationally beat the holders 2-1 at Milltown.
Ironically, the goals were scored by former Rovers players Podge Cregg and Bobby Rogers, whose registrations had been retained by the Rovers owners the Cunninghams to prevent them from playing for another League of Ireland club.
St Pat’s are 27-0 against non-league teams (including 2 games while in the Leinster Senior League), twice being taken to a replay, while Cork City, UCD and Wexford Youths are also unbeaten against clubs outside the LOI.
Rovers are looking to extend their 21 game unbeaten streak since losing the 2014 FAI Cup semi-final replay, their longest run since 1957. The 24-time winners last lifted the trophy way back in 1987.
To put that into perspective, there is no other country in Europe in which the team with the most national cup wins in its history have been knocked out in each of the last 28 seasons.
Marseille and Malmö (under Roy Hodgson) have not won the Cup in France and Sweden respectively since 1989. Red Boys Differdange won their 15th and last Luxembourg Cup in 1985 but in 2003 they merged with AS Differdange to become FC Differdange.
They captured the trophy in 2010 and 2011. Wrexham, 23 time winners of the Welsh Cup, have not participated in the competition since their 1995 victory with the exception of the 2011/12 season.
26 out of 54 UEFA members’ record cup winners currently have possession of the trophy and only one other nation’s ‘cup specialists’ have not won it since the turn of the century – AGF, a Danish First Division side (1996). Juventus last week won their first Coppa Italia in 20 years.
Odds BK, who have never won a league title, had 11 Cups to their name by the early 1930s but remarkably they waited 69 years for the next one. They had been relegated in 1967 and did not return to the Norwegian Premier League until 1999.
‘Odd’, with Ronny Deila in their side, won it the following season and were runners-up in 2002 and 2014. Manchester United, joint record FA Cup winners with Arsenal (for now), didn’t win it for 28 seasons from 1909 to 1948, through two World Wars.
Arsenal, formerly named Royal Arsenal and Woolwich Arsenal, failed to lift the trophy in their first 36 attempts until 1930. Arsenal and United were in the Football League First Division for 19 of those seasons whereas Shamrock Rovers have played top flight football in all but one of the 28 seasons.
Until Pat’s ended their 53 year famine, they had been on one of the worst Cup final losing streaks in European history by getting beaten in each of the last 7. USV Eschen/Mauren lost 11 in a row in Liechtenstein until they won it in 2012.
Hibs are on a run of 10 defeats since 1902, the last two of which Pat Fenlon was manager. Icelandic club ÍA lost 8 finals in succession until 2003, AaB in Denmark lost 7 straight until 2014 while FC Balzers, another Liechtenstein club, have lost all 7 finals they have appeared in since their last triumph in 1997.
The only two St Pat’s FAI Cup winning captains, Ger O’Brien and Tommy Dunne, who passed away earlier this month