Cup finals are well known for surprises across the globe, but before even a ball has been kicked in this year’s Mayo FA Cup final there is a big surprise already and that is the two teams who will be taking to the field on Sunday. When the season began, there would not have been many punters out there willing to take a punt on both Fahy Rovers and Straide and Foxford United winning the competition, let alone both of them making it all the way to Milebush on finals day. Sunday will offer some kind of redemption to whichever side comes out on top as both teams get used to the fact they will not be playing in the Super League next season, as both sides failed to escape from the bottom four which dropped through the trap door. Next season they will be competing in the newly formed Premier A league.
Straide and Foxford themselves are no strangers to the cup final having claimed the trophy on four previous occasions, the last in 2008 when they caused a stir by winning the trophy when they were operating out of the old Premier Division. That win wrapped up a glorious treble for the club which claimed the Premier Division title and the League cup in the same season. They were promoted that season to the Super League with Sunday’s opponents Fahy Rovers also joining them in the top flight, with both sides lasting two seasons before going back down this year as the leagues were restructured.
With their greater experience and tradition of winning titles, the men from Green Road will go into the game as favourites. Straide and Foxford will have Aidan Flatley running things on the sideline for them on Sunday, Flatley has been a key part of the resurgence of the club in the past few years and despite this year’s setback with the restructuring of the league he should have a wealth of experience and quality to call on for Sunday. In the middle of the park Alan McDonnell will be a key man, while Ger Gaughan will also cause the Fahy midfield plenty of problems. Paul Fitzpatrick is nursing an injury going into the game and would be a huge loss if he does not make it, but if the worst happens then Johnny Jordan and Paul Moran should be more than capable of pairing up to good effect in attack.
Fahy Rovers, which has been a gypsy team of late, floating from home ground to home ground, most recently playing their home games in Moneen, will be looking to claim the biggest prize ever in the club’s history on Sunday. Joint managers John Creaby and Kevin Kiernan will be looking to find the right blend of strength and skill in their starting 11 to see off the new challenge of Straide and Foxford. Garry Goggins will captain the side and will be looked to for inspiration by the rest of his team-mates, while Robert Fadden did not let the fact that he was in a side struggling for goals affect his form, bagging 10 goals in the Super League, which was some achievement for an 18 game season playing for a side which was relegated. The likes of Tom Keane, Joe Keane, and Colin Napier will also be expected to step up to the mark on Sunday.