Letterkenny Rovers will fly the flag for the Donegal Youth League when they welcome Nenagh AFC from Tipperary to Leckview Park for the FAI Umbro Youth Challenge Cup quarter-final on Sunday, kick-off 12 noon.
Anthony Gorman’s side wrapped up their third successive Dick Duffy Memorial Youth League earlier this month with a 1-1 draw against Keadue Rovers and are still involved in four cup competitions.
In the FAI Youth Cup, they have yet to concede a goal so far this season. They hammered Strand Celtic of Sligo 6-0 on the road before winning 5-0 at Fanad United and then 6-0 against Cappry Rovers.
In the national stages of the competition there was a 5-0 win at Roscommon Town and a battling 1-0 away victory last time out against Ballybrack in Dublin. Gavin McDaid scored the only goal of the match in extra-time to seal a last eight berth. It’s the same stage of the competition Gorman’s team reached last season before going down 3-0 at Castlebar Celtic.
“We’ve been keeping clean sheets in the FAI Youth Cup, which is a good thing as we’ve not been great in that respect in the league,” he said. “We’ve reached the same stage as we were at last year and the thing we learned in Castlebar was the importance in taking our chances. We matched them for long spells in that game but they scored when the chances came their way.”
Rovers are still competing in the Ulster Cup, Colm Breslin Cup and the John ‘Gorey’ Curran Memorial Cup, where Adrian Delap scored the only goal in Saturday’s quarter-final win over neighbours Bonagee United.
Gorman used that fixture to integrate some of the club’s U-16 players with Delap, Ciaran Kelly, Luke Nelis and Ryan McLaughlin all playing their part. Gareth Doherty, who was capped by Ireland’s U-16 side in a 4-1 friendly loss against Holland in Arnhemon Tuesday, also featured.
Captain Liam Blaney sat out that match with a back pain and Jack Blake’s knee injury means he has not featured since the win in Ballybrack. Both are expected to return on Sunday. Rovers were the last Donegal club to reach the final of the FAI Youth Cup back in 2004 - losing to Erris United from Mayo.
Nenagh AFC, who are planning to do a first ever live radio broadcast of the match on Sunday from Leckview, have been hammering in the goals so far in this year’s competition.
Thus far, the side managed by David Rooney and John Gilmartin have battered Arra Rovers 12-0, Two Mile Borris/St Kevin’s FC 10-0, Bansha Celtic 4-0, Peake Villa 3-0 and cruised in to the last eight of the FAI Youths Cup with an emphatic 5-1 over Drogheda Town last time out.
“They’ve certainly been in the goals and joined a fine win over Drogheda Town last time out,” Gorman added. “They’re a strong side with pace up front and we know that we’re going to be in for a serious test. At this stage in the competition we’re delighted to have a home draw.”