changing of the guard in cup final

05 March 2018

Dynasties rise and fall throughout all walks of life, in this case it was the fierce hold that IT Carlow had upon the RUSTLERS CFAI Cup. From 2012 until 2017, all tried but none could release the cup away from Carlow as they won 6 in a row, the last victory coming against Letterkenny IT last year in the Markets Field.

However on the 7th February of this year, the wheels came off as Jack O'Keeffe netted a last gasp penalty for Dundalk IT to defeat the reigning champions by a goal to nil. A new paragraph in the competition is set to be written and it could about to be written about the team whose name is etched into the cup more times than any other.

DKIT could not carry their quarter final momentum with them into the semi-finals as their journey was ended by the 12-time winners Dublin IT who dominated the competition in it's first decade with seven successes by the numerous campus teams under the auspices of the city centre institute. They haven't reached the final since their last success in 2011.

The score in Grangegorman on Wednesday 21st February read 2-0 as Jordi Ebanda and Aaron Robinson both found the net to book Gavin Fleming side's place in the final on March 6th in Galway's Eamonn Deacy Park against Midlands side Athlone IT.

Colin Fortune's team have won the competition on four separate occasions, the last of which was in 2004. This season's top scorer Ryan Gaffey was only 6 years old at the time. They did manage to get to the 2014 final however they were put to the sword by IT Carlow. The CUFL Premier Division side have not been overly impressive this season with their Premier Division status salvaged in a play-off against NUI Galway and their cup successes so far coming against Division One opposition. Albeit to their credit, they have had to progress to this stage without any luxury of home advantage including during the semi-finals when they had to travel to Cork.

Two goals from Gaffey and a Reginald John strike provided the victory over Cork IT but it will be a different proposition when they take on DIT under the lights in Galway. DIT began the CUFL season brightly with victories over the likes of Maynooth University and DCU. They possess several SSE Airtricity League talents within their squad and will certainly provide Athlone with their toughest assignment yet in the cup.

It is a fascinating encounter to be played out and you can watch it live with us on the FAI Third Level Football Facebook page and see which name will be inscribed into the trophy.

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