MUCH-travelled striker David Gormley has already ensured he will never need to buy a round in any pub in Auchinleck.
Back in 2013 his 78th minute strike saw off Linlithgow Rose and set-up Auchinleck Talbot’s tenth Scottish Junior Cup win – cue drinks all round.
And he will be looking to further cement his love-in with the Talbot faithful in this afternoon’s Dyslexia Scotland Scottish Junior Cup final against Musselburgh Athletic at Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park.
Gormley, who has played for Motherwell, Ayr United, Alloa, Albion Rovers and Elgin City in the seniors and Glenafton Athletic, Kirkintilloch Rob Roy and Talbot in the juniors, has scored goals for them all. He is already over the 20-goal threshold this season, five of these coming during Talbot’s run to the final – in which he has also claimed six assists.
But his most important contribution to his side claiming their 13th Junior Cup final appearance came in the semi-final, where he donned the gloves after Talbot backstop Andy Leishman was red-carded, and proceeded to save a penalty, taken by Hurlford’s Stewart Kean.
That was two minutes into the second half of the semi-final, second leg and with Talbot hanging on to their two-goal advantage from the first leg, a Hurlford goal then might have swung the tie away from the ’Bot. However, the ten men came back to win 2-1 and take the tie 5-2 on aggregate.
That wasn’t the first time Gormley had turned penalty-saving hero. He had previously demonstrated that side of his game whilst ‘upstairs’ with Alloa, going into goal and saving a penalty from Hamilton Accies’ Simon Mensing.
He was at it again last Saturday, in Talbot’s last pre-final match, against Irvine Vics. Another red card for Leishman meant Gormley faced a late penalty, but this time he couldn’t stop the kick, so Talbot’s 5-0 lead became a 5-1 final score.
Gormley, however, is confident he will not be required to don the gloves this afternoon at Rugby Park, as Talbot will have regular reserve keeper Robert Kerr, who was unavailable against Hurlford and Irvine Vics, in their cup final squad.
Gormley is, however, confident that the favourites will justify that ranking with victory, just months after it seemed he would be leaving Talbot. He was all set for another sortie into the senior game with Clyde, and was seemingly certain to step up during the January transfer window, but the deal fell through and Clyde’s loss was Talbot’s gain.
If Gormley is likely to be a key man for Talbot, they will have to keep a close eye on Musselburgh striker Jordyn Sheerin. The former East Fife, East Stirlingshire and Arbroath hit-man has already scored more than 40 goals this season and he will be the main threat to Talbot’s dream of an 11th Scottish Cup win.
Musselburgh, managed by Stevie McLeish, pictured, have been in wretched form, particularly since they dumped Linlithgow Rose out of the Scottish Cup in the semi-final. Since then, they have won just twice in 12 games, but the guys from Olivebank are unconcerned about being cast as the outsiders.
They were similarly under-rated when they faced Talbot in the 2011 final, but took the favourites to extra time before going down to a Talbot team who were mightily relieved to hear the final whistle.
“We’re a cup-tie team, we’ve played our best in cup games this season and, having run Talbot so close in 2011, we mean to do even better today,” says Burgh chairman Charlie McGlynn, who would love to have a cup win to celebrate tonight, before he and wife Mary, the club secretary, fly out on holiday tomorrow.
Today’s final offers Talbot boss Tommy Sloan the chance to equal legendary predecessor Willie Knox’s record of winning the Junior Cup for a fifth time as manager.
Talbot’s surprise loss to Shotts in 2012 denied Sloan the chance to equal the unique run of three-in-a-row Scottish Junior Cup victories which Knox achieved between 1986-1988, and it is the memory of that loss to Shotts which drives Sloan on today.
“That result means there is no way we will underestimate Musselburgh today,” Sloan stressed.
“They made life awkward for us in 2011. I expect another hard game today, we know they are dangerous opponents and we will be ready,” he continued. Sloan isn’t concerned about equalling Knox’s record: “That sort of stuff is for after you retire,” he said. “Today is simply about winning the cup again.”
Talbot’s last win, in 2013, came at the expense of Linlithgow, in a final dubbed ‘the Junior El Clasico’, because both teams went into the game unbeaten all season. Today’s game hasn’t had that element of hype, but it will still be interesting.
Talbot have already won the West Superleague and they are due to face Hurlford in the Ayrshire Cup final – while the Scottish is Musselburgh’s solitary shot at glory this season.
Talbot will start as overwhelming favourites, but if ‘the Real Madrid of the Juniors’ have an Achilles heel, it is they sometimes fall to unranked opponents – Shotts in 2012 and Ardrossan Winton Rovers in the West of Scotland Cup last month being two recent examples.
That is a perceived failing which Musselburgh intend to exploit. They may be outsiders, but Athletic cannot be written-off for the match, which kicks-off at 4.05pm and is live on BBC Alba.