Kildrum Tigers have the top intermediate side in the country in the form of Avondale United to mark their first ever home fixture in the FAI Cup on Sunday (kick-off 1pm).
The side managed by Raymond McDaid have history with Avondale - in 2007 the pair clashed in the semi-final of the intermediate cup, also at Station Road in St Johnston, and the Cork side left with a narrow 1-0 win on their way to winning the trophy for the third occasion. Back-to-back victories this year and last have pushed that achievement out to five.
Kildrum have lined out in Ulster Senior League action just once this season, a 1-0 win over Drumkeen United at St Patrick’s Park earlier this month. Ronan Coyle scored a second half winner that evening during a game in which he and full-back Johnny McGinty both missed penalty kicks.
More worrying would be the 2-1 home loss against Donegal League Premier Division champions Glenea United on Sunday in the semi-finals of the Knockalla Caravans Cup. Worse again Paddy McLaughlin was sent off in that game and will miss Sunday’s fixture as a result.
Team-wise, McDaid has positives, barring McLaughlin’s absence. Cormac Carlin, Gary Crossan, Dermot Kelly and Neil Lloyd are all expected to come back into the reckoning. Kildrum beat Clonmel Celtic thanks to two Carlin goals in round one.
Avondale, who have also come to Triaghalough, the home of Fanad United and posted wins in the intermediate cup in 2005 and 2006, won this season’s variety in typically dramatic fashion. Trailing Cherry Orchard by a goal to nil at Tallaght Stadium last Sunday week Kevin Long’s 93rd minute equaliser sent the game into extra time. Then, in the 113th minute, Declan Cahill was the hero as he sealed a 2-1 win.
Twelve months previously Colin O’Brien’s extra-time winner defeated the same opponents at Turner’s Cross. For Kildrum, it’s a third tilt at the senior cup. In 2007 they went down 2-1 against Malahide United and a year afterwards were well beaten, 4-0, by Crumlin United.
“They’re a top side and their record in the intermediate cup proves that,” McDaid said. “I’ve not seen Avondale since and the thing that might cost us is the lack of games so far this season. But it’s a huge game for us, our first ever at home in the cup so it’s do or die. To be honest, the worst result for us would be a draw. A trip to Cork would cost us in the region of €3,000 at least.”
Kildrum’s Station Road ground got the go-ahead from FAI officials in the last week to hosts the fixture, thanks to some community spirit in the area to assist in the construction of a perimeter fence around the pitch.
““The club owes a huge debt of gratitude to those men who gave up their time to ensure that this game goes ahead at Station Road,” said club secretary Chris McNulty. “Without them it wouldn’t have been possible and their efforts mean that the club can now stage at home what is the biggest game in its history.”