Covid-19 continues to provide us with unprecedented scenarios when it comes to football.
This past weekend we had two cup finals for the same competition.
The 2019/20 and 2020/21 Papa John’s Trophy finals took place this past Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Salford City vs Portsmouth
Saturday’s final was contested between League Two side Salford City and League One’s Portsmouth.
Both sides booked their place in the final way back in February 2020.
The final was originally pencilled in for the 5th of April last year. As we know, the virus uplifted everything and both finals were pushed back until they could be played over the same weekend.
While none of the teams involved over the weekend could have fans in attendance, Salford did have some famous faces inside Wembley Stadium on their big day.
Co-owners Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs were all in attendance to watch their side aim to win their first major trophy as an EFL club.
Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane was also on hand to provide moral supporter for his old teammates.
There was also some on-field interest for our League of Ireland readers.
Richie Towell lined out for Salford ahead of his rumoured return to Irish football. The Dundalk old boy was extremely influential for his side during the game.
Former Derry City striker Ronan Curtis was also on the bench for Portsmouth.
It was Towell and his fellow Salford bredrin that came out victorious.
The closely contested tie had to be settled on penalties. With the Manchester side holding their nerve to slot away some excellent spot kicks, winning the shoot-out 4-2.
Heartbreak for Portsmouth. Especially for goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray who pulled off the performance of his career.
However, it was his opposition number Vaclav Hladky that left Wembley as the hero. Saving a Ronan Curtis penalty to hand his side a serious advantage.
Let’s indulge in some David Bowie for a quick second. Those Salford players were heroes, just for one day.
Sunderland Vs Tranmere Rovers
Less than 24 hours later, the reigning champions would be replaced by the 2020/21 winners.
Both Sunderland and Tranmere Rovers put their League One and Two promotion hopes to one side as they clashed on Sunday.
It was Sunderland that won the day. Beating Tranmere 1-0 over 90 minutes. This was the Black Cats first Wembley win since 1973.
Striker Lynden Gooch popped up with the winner. You can stop giggling at his second name now.
Aiden McGeady provided the cracking assist for the goal.
Good timing as Republic of Ireland Chief Scout Ruaidhri Higgins was in attendance. McGeady surely on his way to an international return due to his consistent performances this season.
McGeady’s influence turned out to be vital during this tight battle.
Sunderland will return to the North East as reigning champions, happy in the knowledge that will be the case until 2022.