Edge Hill United is clearly an outfit on the way up, with both their men’s and women’s sides dominant forces in Far North Queensland in recent years.

They booked their spot in next week’s draw with a 3-1 win away at Magpies Crusaders, claiming the scalp of a team who compete in the NPL Queensland.

“It was a tough match, but we were quietly confident going into the game,” explained player-coach Crios O’Hare. “We have some experience within the team, and despite them having the bulk of possession they didn’t really threaten us, even when we went down to ten men.”

It was two headers from Edge Hill defender Ryan Murray that ultimately proved the difference. The Englishman getting on the end of a long throw before meeting an O’Hare corner in the second half to clinch the win.

Murray had spells in the English non-league system with Weymouth and Dorchester Town before settling in Cairns.

O’Hare confirmed he is an integral part of the squad. “I’d describe Ryan as a typical English player—he’s dangerous in the air and loves a tackle. You definitely want him in your team!”

As for O’Hare, he has prior experience of the FFA Cup’s later rounds, having been part of the now-defunct Cairns FC side that made it through to the last 16 in 2018. There they met Sydney FC in a game also notable for being Steve Corica’s first match in charge of the Sky Blues.

Cairns came close to pulling off a major shock on the day, leading 1-0 until midway through the second half before being pegged back by a couple of quick-fire goals. O’Hare then had a chance to take the tie to extra time with a late penalty, only for it to be saved by Sydney’s Andrew Redmayne.

Despite that disappointment, he is still upbeat about the experience. “It was obviously disappointing, but I look back on that game with great pride. We led the best team in Australia for 60-odd minutes and came very, very close in the end.”

There may yet be a chance for O’Hare to exorcise his demons, with Sydney amongst 10 A-League clubs who will enter the FFA Cup draw alongside Edge Hill United—although ongoing concerns about Covid-19 may well end up restricting their potential opponents.

“We’d love to bring an A-League side up to Cairns,” admitted O’Hare. “It’d be a great occasion and an opportunity for some of our younger players to put themselves in the shop window.”

Youth development is certainly a primary focus for the club- who boast over 550 juniors- some of whom have gone on to represent the region and state. Amongst Edge Hill’s senior squad, three players have been with the club from the age of five.

“Whoever we end up drawing we’ll be the underdogs, but we’re quite happy with that tag. It’s already been a great achievement to get this far, and we’re proud to be able to help raise the profile of the game in this region.”  

Edge Hill and their supporters will eagerly be awaiting the Round of 32 draw, which is set to be made on July 7.