Friday, February 10, 2023

It’s been a long time coming but New Oak Boys finally get their chance to face Bray Wanderers in the Leinster Senior Cup on Sunday.

New Oak Boys have been in spectacular form again this season

Chances play against League of Ireland opposition don’t come around very often for junior teams, but New Oak have been sublime in everything they’ve done since the Covid lockdowns ended and this feels like just rewards for their efforts.

Having won home advantage in the draw, New Oak have insisted that the game will take place at the Burrin Road, their own home pitch and manager Gavin Dowling says everyone is looking forward to the occasion.

“It’s no different to any other week, training as normal, we’ll look forward to it a little bit more than other games but it’s more enjoyable so there’s no pressure. Everyone is looking forward to it. We’re looking forward to the game, the pressure is off, that’s the way I’m putting it to the lads, it’s all about enjoying it and playing with freedom. I’ll try get everyone a run, try get the whole squad a game, they all deserve to play in that match, they put in so much last year, let alone the three rounds we’ve had to get to this point. It’s going to be very hard to pick a team because they all want to start this one.

“Lee Murphy is still out injured, he’ll be on the line helping us with us, Conor Byrne will be gone for a couple more weeks, it’s a real shame for him because he’s one of those who’s put in so much effort up to this point. I’ll get him on board too, he’s great at taking warm ups, he’s really good at working behind the scenes with players.

“Then we’ve got Chris Bermingham and Kelvin Corcoran who have gone to Australia, Dean Kelly’s obviously gone, Lee Walker is in with Laois but if I need him, he’ll be around. We have lots of options though, Adam McCarron has been excellent, he’s growing every game, Jamie Murphy is very versatile too.

“It’s been a while waiting for it to go ahead, we were ready for it to go ahead two weeks ago, then we thought it might go ahead last week, we were then offered it midweek, and we turned it down because we thought we could make some money off it. So we gave them three dates and they chose this one, I guess it gives them three weeks to prepare as they only just started pre-season. Although you wouldn’t know what team they’ll bring down, I saw an interview with their manager and he didn’t mention anything about this game so whether they’re just using this as a fitness exercise and getting minutes into players who need it, I don’t know, he might be saving lads for Friday [the league opener].

“It’ll be a great occasion nonetheless, the pitch has to be rolled and cut on Thursday and marked on Friday, the pitch will be fine, it’ll be all good, the lads have been very good at helping out and tidying up and getting it ready. I think there will be a big crowd, listening to people in general talking, a good crowd will be coming down from Kilkenny, Jordan [Harmon] is from Kildare so there will be a good few lads from there I’m sure, then New Oak always have a good crowd and all the locals will be there.”

There is the tantalising prospect of a home tie against League of Ireland champions Shamrock Rovers in the quarter-finals if New Oak can land a huge upset after the Hoops beat UCD 4-1.

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