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Final fling for Avondale

Wednesday, 8th May, 2019 4:37pm

Five years have passed since Avondale United last won the FAI Intermediate Cup. Top of the roll of honour, Avondale have won the title seven times, but face stiff opposition in the form of Crumlin United who themselves have won four titles – the last being in 2016.

Ken Bruton, Avondale's manager for the last three seasons, will lead from the line on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium, and having won three intermediate cups himself in 2006, 2007 and 2011, he has plenty of experience to draw on for the occasion.

Avondale's season has been patchy to date, an excellent cup run has been coupled by a poor run in the Munster Senior League in recent months, with the club three from the bottom on 15 points in comparison to leaders UCC and Rockmount's tallies of 30 points each. A 2-1 loss to Rockmount on 1 May, preceded by a draw and a loss to Cobh Wanderers and College Corinthians, were not ideal, admits Bruton.

“It's not ideal because it becomes a bad habit when you're getting results like that. The league this year has been a bit nuts in that there was something like eight teams still in with a chance of winning a few weeks ago. It's great 'cause it means there's a more competitive league there but it's difficult as well because fixtures can be congested then at this time of year. We had one game that was postponed four times, and unfortunately now there's a lot of injuries, there's been a lot of games and probably not as much training which is just how it's fallen.

“I do think that resources could be used a bit better. It's not a case of moving the league so that it's played throughout the summer 'cause then you'll be missing players for a different reason altogether in that they'll be coming and going with holidays, but if were to have all-weather playing pitches so that matches could go ahead regardless of the weather then it would definitely help at this end of the season where matches have to be played off one after the other to get the league finished.”

In terms of injuries and absentees Bruton has mixed fortune; by in large he expects the majority of his panel to be available but one player who will definitely miss out is Josh O'Shea who is suspended after a double yellow sending off in the semi-final win against Rockmount.

“It's a critical time for us with Saturday's match,” continues Bruton.

“It's tough for Josh not being able to play, you can't appeal two yellows so that's disappointing, with the type of player he is I'm just disappointed for him personally as well. He's very committed and comes in and does his job with no fuss. Other than that, it'll depend how lads are.

Ryan Hogan tore his calf against Ringmahon Rangers in the Donie Forde Cup Final and had to come off but he's hopefully due back and Dave Shovelin is carrying an ankle injury so we'll have to see but hopefully most of the lads will be available to us. They might tell me they are anyway even if they're not!”

Bruton makes no secret of the fact that the Intermediate Final was a goal from the start of the season. Having played and won three finals, as well as losing one, Bruton knows only too well what the competition means to the club and what a boost it would be for everyone, not just himself and the team, if they were to bring their eighth cup back to Cork on Saturday evening.

“Every year the calendar is set out and you'd be planning everything around the cup fixtures, we'd set out our mini goals of course and what we expect to do in the season but then you have the likes of the cup which is always a main goal of the club.”

Crumlin United have been earmarked as favourites for Saturday's tie having beaten holders Maynooth in the semi-final. Avondale's run saw them beat all Cork teams in their cup run, with Saturday's final at the Aviva somewhat venturing in to unknown territory.

“We're aware of Crumlin of course but we don't know too much about them other then the fact that they won the Leinster Senior League, they have a great goal difference in the league, a seriously good set-up and all that considered, they'd probably expect to win.

“The dimensions in the Aviva Stadium are slightly less then normal in width but, to be honest, it's just another pitch! Guys sometimes focus on the environment and where they're playing but I don't think it should make any difference, first couple of minutes maybe, but after that it's just another match on another pitch.”

A win on Saturday would be brilliant, says Bruton, but for him it's more about what it all means to Avondale, a club he has served so well as both a player and a coach. “When I took over, I took four of the under 19 players I had been coaching with me.

Previously there had been a gap between the senior team and underage teams so we've been working for a long time on the academy side of things.

A win on Saturday would be brilliant but it's so important as well to see the bus loads of kids heading up to the Aviva and seeing players having made the step-up, knowing they can do that themselves as well. That's an integral part to Avondale and something we've worked hard on so to be honest, that's the bet I get most satisfaction from! Anything after that is a bonus,” he concludes.

The FAI Intermediate Cup will take place on Saturday 11 May. Kick-off at the Aviva Stadium is at 2pm.

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