North Tipperary & District League’s Thurles Town face a daunting trip to Pearse Park in Dublin to face Leinster Senior League outfit Crumlin Utd this Saturday coming.
In a match billed as one of the biggest in the clubs history, Thurles will go into this without fear under the tutelage of Noel Byrne.
Thurles have had a fantastic season so far this season having won every game except one, against near neighbours Peake Villa Fc in the John Delaney Cup. That in itself is a huge jump as only just eighteen months ago the club finished bottom of the Premier Division and only survived relegation because of teams pulling out of the league later that summer. That bit of luck has seen them propel to new heights as they are now on course to win their first league title in their history.
Having already capturing the NT&DL Premier Division Shield this season this squad has learned to gel quickly despite numerous new signings. Noel Byrne has put together a formidable squad and having been dealt the blow of losing star striker Tommy Brophy earlier in the campaign they have come back stronger than ever.
Byrne took on the job midway through last season ad seen his side finish second in the table showing immediate promise. He then started this season with one major aim and that was the league title, something of which they are well on their way to achieving already.
Signings such as Graeme Loughman, a hugely experienced Goalkeeper with league of Ireland credentials have helps tighten up a very good defence with Aaron Ryan and Ted O’Connor at the heart of it.
The midfield is full of stars but probably the most impressive this far has been Micheal Foley, a box to box midfielder who not only has talent on his side but youths aswell. He is helped out by fellow youngster Eoghan Vaughan who has played in mainly a wide berth since signing, another with League of Ireland credentials. Paraic Fogarty, Liam Hickey, Mickey Comerford and Robert Jordan will also be vying for starting places.
The strike force will be as usual with top scorer Barry Ryan and the brilliant Paul Kirwan. Both players have been in immense form this season with Ryan amassing 25 goals already this term, a very smart striker who always seems to be on hand to score. Kirwan himself has scored 13 which at this stage of the season is a fantastic total with Vaughan third in line with 7 and this shows the sheer importance of the two willy veterans up top.
Town have been buoyed by three recent return of Ben Brophy who has missed most of the season because of various reasons but all at the club are very glad to have him back as he continues his route to full fitness. Phillippe Samuels has signed from Ballymackey Fc In the transfer window and he showcases alot of pace and skill and adds to the squads youth although it is unlikely that he will feature this Sunday. Micheal Byrne will most likely start at right back, another player with vast experience and a fantastic will to win.
They face a Crumlin side that have been very inconsistent this season but they are a side that on their day could give the very best in the country a run for their money. Having only scored 22 goals in their 12 games Thurles might see a weakness in defence as United have conceded 19 in the process having won 5 and drawn 2 of their opening 12 games.
It should be a very fascinating game and a big test for the North Tipperary side who will be playing their first game in their history on an artificial pitch, something that’s sure to give the hosts an advantage.
Stoppagetime.ie feel that this very well maybe a bridge to far for Thurles but fully expect a big performance and would not be surprised if the underdogs grabbed a win here. Either way it is only the first step of many for this rising club and it will be a very special day for Club Secretary John Murphy who has been their through thick and thin for Thurles for many years.
Thurles Town Squad:
Graeme Loughman (GK)
Barry Ryan (Capt)
David Coppinger (GK)
Noel Byrne Manager
Willie Mulcaire Assistant Manager
Joe Brophy Coach
Emily Hayden Physio