INSTITUTE’s Elite Youth squad coach, Brian Donaghy, insists the Drumahoe club holds no fear as it awaits tonight’s draw for the quarter-finals of the Irish Intermediate Cup.
SIMON COLLINS was at Riverside Stadium
Taking over first team managerial duties in the absence of the suspended, Paul Carlyle, Donaghy helped guide the Drumahoe club into the last eight with victory over Banbridge Town on Saturday afternoon.
And with Newry City and Dergview among the best of the teams remaining in the competition, Donaghy believes ‘Stute have a fantastic chance to add the trophy to their North-West Senior Cup and Craig Memorial Cup wins this season.
“It’s a good competition and you just want to win every game we’re involved in,” said Donaghy. “It’s the second biggest cup after the Irish Cup. So we’re in the last eight now and, hopefully, we might get a home tie.
“We don’t fear anyone left in the competition,” he added. “Newry, Dergview and Cliftonville Reserves are still there but we’re a match for anyone.”
Going into Saturday’s fifth round clash, ‘Stute were considered overwhelming favourites to progress, particularly given the addition of talented former Derry City midfielder, Michael McCrudden, who was poised to make his debut for the home side.
However, Banbridge clearly didn’t read the script and they had ‘Stute rattled after 19 minutes when Chris McGrath latched onto a poor clearance from Paddy McLaughlin outside the penalty area and placed a delightful, side-footed effort off the underside of the crossbar and into the net to put the visitors ahead.
The Co. Down men were enjoying the majority of possession but ‘Stute levelled matters, against the run of play on 28 minutes when the Banbridge defence invited Declan McKeever to drive forward and he sent a powerful left-foot strike into the bottom corner.
‘Stute had their tails up after this and following a neat inter-change of passes on the left, the lively Aaron McEneff let fly with a terrific effort from 25 yards which seemed destined for the back of the net, however, Kieran Maguire produced a magnificent, finger-tip save at full stretch to push it onto the post.
The home lot bombarded the Banbridge defence during a dominant 10 minutes spell as James McClay and McCrudden both had efforts saved by Maguire.
And two minutes before the interval, Sean Roddy’s curling free-kick crashed off the crossbar and the rebound fell to McLaughlin who’s low shot was saved by the ‘keeper.
Weather conditions worsened after the restart as the wind and sleet swept across the Riverside pitch towards the River Faughan and the quality on the field also deteriorated with referee, Wesley Campbell, producing six yellow cards during what was a scrappy second half.
With extra-time looming it was ‘Stute who made the vital breakthrough as substitute, Graham Taylor delivered a pin-point cross onto the head of Davitt Walsh at the back post and he rose majestically to head beyond the Banbridge ‘keeper.
Walsh added a third for the home lot in added time when McCrudden sent him scampering towards goal and with plenty of time and space he placed his shot past the helpless keeper to put the gloss on what was a battling performance.
Afterwards Donaghy said he was disappointed at the way his side had started the match.
“They were only ever going to score from set-pieces or a long ball, so we had to give them respect because Chris Kingsberry is very good when he gets in behind the defence,” maintained Donaghy.
“It’s hard to keep the concentration levels when you have so much of the ball. But, all in all, we saw the game out in the second half even though it wasn’t pretty.
“Sean Roddy hit the crossbar with a great free-kick and their goalkeeper did really well on a few occasions but I don’t think we played as well as we have done, we weren’t as free-flowing.
“We had a bit of creativity up front and with Aaron McEneff and James McClay and Declan McKeever pulling the strings in the middle of the field I thought they were excellent.
“And Michael McCrudden is a class act, he gives you great quality. He’s got fantastic technical ability and the more games he gets the more confident he will become.”
Institute - 4-4-2 - Martin Gallagher; Sean Roddy, Ryan Browne, Paddy McLaughlin, Dean Jarvis; Michael McCrudden, James McClay (Graham Taylor 77mins), Declan McKeever, Aaron McEneff; Davitt Walsh, Darren McFadden (Andy Cooke, 61mins); Subs Not Used - John Curran, Richard Lynch, Joe McCready.
Banbridge - 4-4-2 - Kieran Maguire; Stuart Thompson, James Wilson (Connor Downey 64 mins), Stephen Greene, Daniel Johnson; Simon Robb, Barry Tumilty, Chris McGrath, Matthew McCartan; Chris Kingsberry, Stephen McArea; Subs Not Used - Ian McDowell, Adam McBurnley.
Referee - Wesley Campbell.