By NIALL FEERY
The LSL and Scotland Amateurs reignite their annual battle at FAI Headquarters on Saturday in what is the 20th edition of this highly prestigious and anticipated fixture.
Andy Noonan’s side aim to recapture the Harkness Trophy, first won by the LSL at this venue in 2017, following defeat in Little Hampden last year.
This is always a full throttle, full blooded occasion with no tackles pulled or challenges shirked in what has become one of the main events on the LSL calendar.
Scotland, who lead the way with ten wins to nine, got the better of Noonan’s side by two goals to one at Little Hampden thanks to goals from Kenny Feaks and Andy McGown. Bluebell United’s Shane Stritch, who is named in this season’s squad, netted for the LSL.
This annual dust up started out in 2000 when the Noel Synnott/Paul O’Brien managed LSL picked up the Mackay Trophy, the original trophy, following a penalty shoot-out victory in Falkirk. The Mackay Trophy was replaced by the Harkness Trophy in 2014 and the Scots have dominated with four wins out of five.
The Scots have enjoyed their trips across the Irish Sea, winning six times in the province. It took the LSL five attempts before landing a victory on home soil, the 2009 penalty shoot-out win in Glebe North’s Market Green.
Shoot-outs have played a prominent role in this clash with the game being decided by penalties on nine different occasions.
The biggest win has been 2-0 (Scotland in 2004, 2007 and 2011, the LSL in 2008 and 2017) while the highest scoring game was the 2002 instalment in Hamilton when the sides shared four goals before the LSL won, you guess it, on penalties.
This time around, gaffer Noonan has named ten players from champions Bluebell United while title chasing pair Crumlin United and Killester/Donnycarney supply seven between them. The LSL boss has assembled an exciting squad, mixed with experience, pace, power and large helping of finesse. All four attributes will be needed when the temperatures rise at FAI Headquarters.
Evan Whelan, Adam McCormack, Stephen Chambers (Killester/Donnycarney), Mikey Quinn, Blair Mandiangu, Alan McGreal, Craig Walsh (Crumlin United), Ross Gaynor, Karl Russell, Jeff Flood, Aaron Robinson, Sean Byrne, Dean Lawerence, Luke Rossiter, Shane Stritch, Niall Barnes, Gary Seery (Bluebell United), Mick Daly (St Mochta’s).
Squad could change due to late withdrawals and injuries.