Irish and Liverpool legend Ray Houghton paid a surprise visit to two fans of Ballynanty Rovers and St. Michael’s FC to deliver their VIP tickets to this weekend’s FAI Junior Cup Final at the Aviva Stadium.
Houghton, an FAI Junior Cup Ambassador, was in Limerick and Tipperary for a Communities Day ahead of the Final on Sunday and he made a quick detour to ensure the deserving fans got their special tickets for the big match.
The first stop for Houghton was a visit to lifelong Ballynanty Rovers supporter Pakie Kelly. The 69-year-old was 11 years old when the club was established and has been involved ever since. A retired soldier, Pakie served overseas for many years but he is now more involved than ever in his beloved “Balla”.
He has coached and managed schoolboy teams until recently and will be on the gate on match days collecting the entrance fees. Despite two finals in 1976 and 1983, Pakie has yet to see his side lift the FAI Junior Cup but after receiving his VIP tickets for Sunday he will be in prime position to see his boyhood club try and win their first FAI Junior Cup.
Next it was on to Tipperary for Houghton as he surprised St. Michael’s supporter Tommy Cunningham. The 65 year-old has been a supporter of St. Michael’s all his life and was at the final the only time “The Saints” lifted the FAI Junior Cup in 1974. Tommy will be hoping to see his hometown club lift the trophy again on Sunday at the Aviva Stadium.
Houghton said; “It was great to be able to present Pakie and Tommy with these tickets. Both fans are not only supporters of their clubs but they are part of the heartbeat of the club. It would be impossible to try and measure how much both have put into these clubs to help get them to the Aviva Stadium on Sunday. That’s what this final is all about, giving these two teams an opportunity to perform on the biggest stage in the country and for those to whom these clubs matter so much , they get to see their friends and heroes give them a day to remember.”
This year’s FAI Junior Cup takes place on Sunday, 25th May at the Aviva Stadium. The game kicks off at 2pm prior to Ireland’s senior international friendly against Turkey which begins at 6pm. This is the second year that the FAI Junior Cup Final has been held at the Stadium with Sheriff YC defeating Kilbarrack United in last year’s decider in front of 6,000 fans.
For more information on the FAI Junior Cup log on to www.AVIVA.ie/FAIJuniorCup