DAVID Shovlin will be out for revenge when he takes to the field at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday for Cork side Avondale United in the FAI Intermediate Cup Final.
Shovlin lined out for Letterkenny Rovers in the 2016 decider, but their dreams were dashed by Crumlin United, who won 5-0.
The Raphoe native is now wearing the blue of Avondale, and he will go head-to-head with Crumlin once again in the decider that kicks off at 2pm.
“I do have some regrets,” said Shovlin, as he reminisced back to the final with Rovers three years ago.
“If you look at the scoreline it would suggest that the better team won the game.
“But you can actually watch the match now on YouTube and we started off very well.
“It was a big occasion and it was tough when they went in front. They were definitely the better team but I think the scoreline flattered them a bit.
“I have a chance for a bit of revenge this week. I never thought I would get the opportunity to play in the Aviva again, so it’s great to be heading back there.
“It can’t go much worst than the last time anyway,” he laughed.
Shovlin moved to Leeside early in 2018 to work as a podiatrist with the HSE. However, he decided to see last season out with Rovers.
The 29-year-old was a key player for Rovers last year as they reached the semi-finals of the Intermediate Cup, but Firhouse Clover brought their run to an end in a replay.
It wasn’t sustainable to commute up and down the length of the country for football, and that put him on the lookout for a new club.
“I moved down in January of last year, and I travelled up home for most of the games towards the end of the season, but it wasn’t something that I could have kept doing.
“I would have left work early on a Friday and been up in Raphoe for around 10.
“But the problem was that most of the games in the Ulster Senior League were on Sundays, and you’d have to hop in the car straight away after and you might not be back to 10 or 11.
“That was quite taxing, and there were days when I was driving down the motorway and I would have to try and move my leg over to the passenger’s side because I was starting to cramp.”
Shovlin contacted Avondale to see if he could train with the club at the end of last season, but decided it might be a conflict of interests as both the Cork team and Rovers were still in the running for the Intermediate Cup.
He linked up with Douglas Hall instead, but at the end of the campaign, he decided to make the move and join Avondale, who are revered throughout the country.
They are the most the successful club in the history of the Intermediate Cup, winning the competition a record seven times, including four in-a-row earlier this decade.
“It’s a great club and the manager Ken Bruton has made me feel very welcome. He’s an absolute gentleman.
“It’s probably not like what people up north would think it’s like.
“Their facilities wouldn’t be the best, and there are a lot of people working behind the scenes to try and improve them.
“But when you go into the little clubhouse, you see the pictures of their Intermediate Cup winning teams, you know that it is a club that are serial winners.”
Avondale have already captured the Keane Cup this year, but they were well off the pace in the Munster Senior League which was won by UCC.
However, they produced their best football in the Intermediate Cup.
Strangely, they have reached the decider without playing a club from outside Cork, and defeated Rockmount 2-0 in their last four encounter.
That sets up an appearance in the Aviva for the first time in four years, which is good going for a club that are supposedly going through a transitional period.
“At the start of the year we set out to win everything that we could, and we actually won a cup back in November.
“We have a very strong squad but we have probably struggled to get our best eleven out every week with injuries and one thing and another.
“We were well in contention for the league in November, but we fell away then.
“We were also beaten in a cup final by Ringmahon, but there are still another two cups to play for as well as the Intermediate Cup.
“We have been playing well on the big day and hopefully we will keep that going this week.”
Three years ago, Rovers went up against a seriously talented Crumlin team.
Greg Moorhouse scored a hat-trick in the final and is now on Shelbourne’s books.
Their highly-rated goalkeeper Shane Supple subsequently signed for Bohemians where he developed a reputation as the best goalkeeper in the League of Ireland, and went on to secure an international call-up.
Alan McGreal also signed for Bohs at that time, but is now back with Crumlin.
Shovlin says Crumlin still have some survivors from the final with Rovers, and they will be formidable opponents.
“It’s hard to know where they are at now. I don’t think they have been back in the final since they beat Rovers.
“But they are still a very decent side. I’ve gone to watch them a couple of times, and they are very dangerous up front.
“I would say that we are quietly confident that we will have enough to trouble them as well, and it won’t just be us worrying about them.”