OUR Tennent’s Irish Cup journey begins tomorrow as we welcome Newry City to Inver Park.
Memories are still fresh in a lot of our minds from last season’s Cup run, with that great quarter-final win away to Ballymena and the occasion that the semi-final provided against eventual winners Coleraine, among other things.
I know everyone at the club, from board, players and management would dearly love another run this year, but standing in our way is a very good Newry side.
I have a lot of respect for the job Darren Mullen, and the whole club are doing at the Newry Showgrounds. To come from literally nowhere to the Premiership in five or six years is incredible and provides a lot of inspiration to the rest of us, ourselves included.
They are playing – and holding their own – at Premiership level week in, week out, so it goes without saying that we are going to have to be at our best if we want to be in the hat for the next round come 5pm. Hopefully we can make home advantage count, so I would urge everyone to get to Inver Park and pack the place out once more. As the manager continually says, it makes all the difference to the players.
Lee Lynch and Benny Igiehon are eligible to play in the match, should the manager choose to bring them in. I know it’s been a long spell for Benny waiting to be able to play since his arrival in September. Hopefully his commitment and dedication will be rewarded whenever he gets his chance. Lee has also been fitting in nicely and we look forward to seeing him in action as well.
We come into the game off the back of a disappointing day at Carrick last Saturday. The better team on the day won and I don’t think the players will need me to tell them that we have a few wrongs to put right. This group has shown a great quality and endeavour throughout the season, but we are there to be shot at every week. As we’ve seen, if we’re not at our best, then other teams will punish us for that.
However, we believe in them to put it right, starting with tomorrow’s cup tie and the 11 league games we have remaining. Your support at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena was absolutely second to none, both in terms of quantity and quality and we thank you for that.
Let me wish you a very happy new year and as a club we really look forward to seeing what can be achieved in 2019 and beyond.
Before concluding, I am looking forward to welcoming some of the guys who took the club to the Irish Cup Final in 2005 as our guests at the game. Gary Wray, Stephen Small, Alan Murphy, Marty Rodgers and Orman Okunaiya have confirmed attendance at the moment and are looking forward to a trip down memory lane. Lets ensure they get a warm Inver Park welcome when you meet them.
All that remains is for me to thank this week’s match sponsor, who is with us for each and every cup tie this season My Home Move, our matchball sponsor this week, who are Sam Johnston and Raymond Mark. We are also grateful to The Curran Court Hotel, Graham’s Pizza and Classic Drinks for their ongoing support.