COBH RAMBLERS have been handed a bonanza home clash against Dundalk in the EA Sports Cup semi-final.
The last-four tie against Stephen Kenny’s kingpins will take place on the August bank holiday weekend, in what should be one of the biggest occasions at St Colman’s Park in many a generation.
Dundalk have raised the bar for domestic Irish football as a consequence of their League of Ireland and European exploits over recent years.
It promises to be a massive opportunity for the Cobh players to test themselves against the best in domestic Irish football.
Giving his reaction to the draw, Ramblers manager Stephen Henderson said: “We are very happy that it is a home draw and we are also very happy that it is against one of the best teams in the country. Dundalk have brought the league credibility up through the roof in terms of what they have done in Ireland, but especially because of what they have done in Europe.
“For our young players to have an opportunity to put themselves up against them, here in St Colman’s Park, hopefully a packed Colman’s Park, would be a great day and occasion for everybody.
“We have a 4,000 capacity in St Colman’s Park — hopefully we could fill the place up. There is one thing about our young players, they respond when the crowd gets behind them. For our lads to go out and test themselves against one of the best, if not the best, in a semi-final environment. There is going to be loads of experience learned.”
The Lilywhites are the current holders, having beaten Shamrock Rovers 3-0 in Tallaght Stadium in the decider last year.
Dundalk booked their place in the semi-finals this term thanks to a 3-0 success over Bohemians at Oriel Park, with Dylan Connolly getting a brace, along with a goal from Jamie McGrath.
The Co Louth side went the distance away to St Pat’s in round two. After the game at Richmond Park finished 4-4 after extra time, Dundalk progressed, winning 8-7 on a penalty shootout.
Ramblers reached the semi- finals courtesy of a 2-0 victory over Longford Town. A free- kick by Darren Murphy and a late Andy Wall finish were enough to overcome the challenge of Neale Fenn’s men.
Cobh have defeated Premier Division opposition already on their way to the semi- finals, winning 1-0 away to Limerick in round two.
In the other semi-final, Sligo Rovers play host to Derry City at The Showgrounds. Both semi-finals are currently scheduled to be played on Monday August 6.