Drumkeen United are looking forward to the biggest game in their history when they face seven-time winners Bohemians in the FAI Cup second round (kick-off 7.45pm).
The fixture at Dalymount Park is a reward for player-manager Benny Bonner’s team for reaching the last 16 of the FAI Intermediate Cup, where they lost 2-0 against Verona FC in January.
Drumkeen obtained a bye in the first round proper in their first excursion into the senior cup and some were hoping for a tie against one of the Airtricity League’s big guns.
“It’s a big day out,” Bonner said. “Most people were looking for a big tie although I’d have been happier with a home draw, maybe against a First Division team, but we know what we’re up against on Friday.”
Drumkeen have picked up just one point from a possible 12 in the Ulster Senior League, a 3-3 home draw against Swilly Rovers. However, the fixture schedule wasn’t kind, with their first three against last season’s top three - Fanad United, Kildrum Tigers and Cockhill Celtic.
Drumkeen, who will take a bus load of supporters to Phibsborough, are likely to be without full-back Justin Deasley, who, after pulling a hamstring 10 minutes into the first game against Fanad, returned against Swilly only to suffer two broken ribs. Right-back Gavin Reilly has a groin injury and central defender Shaun Gallagher is getting physio on a calf strain.
Drumkeen will wotk with the players that served them well since the turn of the year with a host of reserve team players making up the 18-man squad, before welcoming in a host of new signings come June - Conor McNulty, David Craig, Jamie Gallagher, Conor Carlin, Jamie Gallagher, Gavin Gallagher and Roy Duffy.
Bohemians, who were Premier Division champions as recently as 2009 and FAI Cup winners a year previously, currently sit fourth from bottom of the 12-team top flight with 14 points from their 13 matches. All but five of those points were picked up on the road.
A three-game winless streak was put to bed on Monday when Peter McMahon and a stoppage time winner from Ryan McEvoy sealed a come from behind 2-1 win against Shelbourne at Tolka Park. Aaron Callaghan is the current manager, having taken over from Hibernian bound Pat Fenlon.
With league leaders Sligo Rovers the next side to visit Dalymount a week on Friday, Callaghan may opt to rest some of his senior players for the arrival of Drumkeen, who are considered outsiders at an unappealing price of 8/1 to win and 4/1 to draw - Finn Harps are 11/1 to claim victory away to Derry City on the same night.
Luke Byrne and Michael Barker are both unavailable as they are on duty with the Republic of Ireland in Portugal for the Uefa U-19 Championship Elite Phase qualifiers. Neil Harney and Owen Heary missed out on Monday through illness and injury respectively, while goalkeeper Andy McNulty remains out meaning Craig Sexton will keep goal.
“We’ll go there with nothing to lose,” Bonner added. “The pressure is all on Bohs. We’re expecting to be doing a bit of chasing but we’ll enjoy the experience and they probably don’t know what to expect from us.”