The turkey and ham with all the trimmings is well and truly digested along with pies, cake, sweets, biscuits plus copious amounts of drink of differing varieties and the fireworks and the strains of Auld Lang Syne barely died down as United look to usher in 2019 in style. While most of us celebrated Christmas and the New Year in style, a certain group of Westport men celebrated but with a bit of work and preparation for a big football match that will see our finest boys take the field to represent their club, their families and their town. Since the departure of John Russell, interim manager, Pádraig Burns has really pulled out the stops to prepare the team for the challenge that lies ahead with high quality training sessions and a couple of friendlies to keep the players on their toes.
Westport United hosts the AUL’s Usher Celtic, considered by many as second favourites to win the FAI Junior Cup, who only last season broke the hegemony held by Sheriff YC over the last number of years in the competition and comprehensively defeated Castlebar Celtic 5-0 in the last round. For Westport United, this is the biggest home game in the FAI Junior Cup since Killester in 2006 and remember the crowd in the Sports Park on that cold Sunday afternoon? We may have lost that day as holders of the coveted trophy but the crowd that day was absolutely magical and the photos taken by Conor McKeown were an awe-inspiring sight. The magnitude of this tie cannot be underestimated and the club is issuing a huge rallying call to the Red and Black Army to re-create the huge crowds so synonymous with the big FAI Junior Cup games in the Sports Park in the past. Tales will be regaled about famous FAI Junior Cup games in the past as the build up takes hold on this proudly soccer orientated town and legendary moments will be rekindled by our loyal supporters and hopefully the current generation will give our supporters a memorable chapter to talk about.
Usher Celtic are favourites for this tie and they are 13/2 to win the trophy while Westport United are well down the betting field at 40/1, making them one of the tournament outsiders, but that’s a position that the players really relish. They have nothing to lose and they are quietly confident of pulling off a major upset against the experienced Dublin outfit. The spirit of Hoganville of 1969 and Killester of 2005 will be well and truly in the minds of the players, and that requires no motivation to apply the commitment and desire to prevail but let’s be under no illusions either, this needs to be the greatest display by this current generation of Westport United footballers to pull off a famous victory. This is new territory for the younger players and while they may be underdogs, with the form of late, they could surprise us all and pull off an unthinkable shock.
The match kicks off at United Park on Sunday at 2:00 and make sure that you come out and support the lads in huge numbers like the support against Killester United in the Sports Park in 2006 and in Buckley Park, Kilkenny back in 2005 and let’s create a carnival atmosphere that will lift our players.