Onehunga Sports captain Jo Dawkins has a unique perspective on today's Chatham Cup final.

The midfielder will lead out his team against Central United at QBE Stadium today, having worn the armband for Central in his only other appearance in the domestic showpiece.

That 2014 final didn't end well - with a 2-1 loss to Cashmere Technical - and soon afterwards Dawkins returned to Onehunga, where he had come through the grades as a youngster. Now he has a chance to make amends.

"It's a really special moment for me," said Dawkins. "I've been there once before and unfortunately I was unsuccessful so to get a second crack at it, and with a club that I am heavily involved in youth level is very special. There is definitely a rivalry [with Central] ... they know each other, and geographically they are just down the road."


Onehunga's recent success - they won the NRFL Premier League at a canter this season - has been predicated on a highly successful youth system. Many of their squad are graduates of the Onehunga academy, including Dawkins who was part of coach Hiroshi Miyazawa's first intake. Miyazawa, a former professional at three J League clubs in Japan, is renowned for his tactical acumen and planning, and the attention to detail has paid off.

"His professionalism is second to none and the level that he goes to as a coach is amazing," said Dawkins. "He set out from day one at this club to be on that national stage with players he has developed since the age of eight or nine. It is a special day for him."

Onehunga has swept all before them this year. They clinched the league title with a month to spare, and have combined attacking firepower with a parsimonious defence, which has conceded 15 goals in 27 games.

But they face the modern day cup kings, with five trophies since 1997. Central would draw level with Christchurch United, Eastern Suburbs and North Shore United with another triumph.

"It's everything, for the winter season for domestic football it's the biggest trophy," said Central coach Aaron McFarland.

"Yes we want to do well in the league, but it's not as important as winning the Chatham Cup because it's the true national trophy, and it's a tough one to win."