Bluebell Utd manager Shane Dolan hopes his side can take the final step on the road to the FAI Centenary Intermediate Cup (Image: Ben McShane/Sportsfile)
BLUEBELL United manager Shane Dolan insists his players deserve nothing more than winning the 2021/22 FAI Centenary Intermediate Cup from Turners Cross this coming Saturday.
The Leinster Senior League side travel to Cork to take on Rockmount in the decider, hoping to cap off what has been a standout year for the team.
Given that he only took charge of Bluebell last year and was immediately faced with the daunting task of rebuilding a senior section after the departure of the former management team, Dolan, its behind-the-scenes team and players have certainly delivered through thick and thin.
“I had a lot of criticism when I got the job, a lot of people saying we’d be relegated, the club would close at Christmas, I’d be sacked,” Dolan told The Echo.
“When I took the job, I had two or three players signed between two teams, so I had a complete reconstruction to do.
“There were sleepless nights, hours and hours on the phone before the season, fearing that someone would show up for the sessions you were organizing.
“I had Shaun Maher with me, a very skilled coach and a very experienced professional himself.
“And I had Brian O’Shea, the goalkeeping coach, another well-known figure in football and we all worked tirelessly.
“Just after the [Intermediate Cup] semi-final against St Francis, I came out onto the pitch to call my partner, Jennifer, and sat on the pitch for about ten minutes and got a little emotional.
“It just struck me that all the hard work had paid off and I was so proud and so happy for the players.
“They weren’t oblivious to the noise and criticism at first, people were writing them off. “We had a brilliant start to the season, then we suffered a few injuries and suffered a drop in form.
“But, from Christmas, I think we’ve had nine straight wins, so they’ve really come back on top.
“They have fully embraced what we are doing.
“They gave 100 per cent in training and every game and that’s all I can ask for as a manager.
“They are fully reaping the rewards of this grand finale and they fully deserve it.
“They deserve all the applause and I really hope for them that we can go one step further and bring home the trophy they deserve,” he said.
Standing in their way to the coveted prize this weekend are a Rockmount side that Bluebell recently beat in the FAI Senior Cup preliminary round, but Dolan is adamant he and his team won’t read too much into this result.
“We beat them 3-1 after extra time, but I wouldn’t go overboard with that. I know they rested a few players and didn’t even bring in a few guys from Cork.
“Every match is completely different, especially a cup final.
“It’s all in the day. “So we won’t read too much into that result, but it was a big win for us, because we’re in the first round at the moment, so hopefully we get one of the big boys and that is something great for the club to look forward to.
“It was a good game. Rockmount are unbeaten all season in the Munster Senior League, so we will have illusions about how difficult it will be.
“But I fully believe in my guys that we have what it takes to come down and bring this trophy home. “We only have one or two minor injury issues in an 18-20 squad, so everyone is absolutely abuzz at this stage.
“It’s what you play football for, to get to those chances, to get to the cup finals and to face the best, so we’re really looking forward to it.”