Institute boss Brian Donaghey wary of Portstewart Irish Cup encounter
Institute manager Brian Donaghey wants his players to be focused and ready to start their Samuel Gelston’s Whiskey Irish Cup campaign on Saturday when they face Lough 41 Premier Intermediate League side Portstewart, at the Brandywell tomorrow (KO 3pm).
Donaghey admits most of his squad are experiencing the Irish Cup for the first time and he’s making sure they are up for the first round tie and avoid being on the end of a cup upset.
“Portstewart in the Irish Cup is the next game and I want to win every game,” he stated. “I want to improve the mindset at the club that we are capable of going to compete in every game.
“I asked for a show of hands at training on Tuesday night and it was nearly 50/50 that had never played in the Irish Cup, it’s my first venture as a manager in the Irish Cup and I want to do well.
“The Irish Cup has been very good to me and it has given me a lot of good memories and to be fair some bad memories like being beat on penalties a couple of years ago with Cliftonville.
"I was lucky enough to play in one final and unfortunately I was part of the Cliftonville squad that was thrown out of the 1999 final because of a registration issue with Simon Gribben, but I have always had a lot of time for the Irish Cup.
“You only get one crack at it each year and I’m determined to get through to the next round and I want to build momentum from January 1st and make sure that we don’t have any free weeks in the calendar.
“We started the year well by drawing with Newry City and we ended 2021 with a win at Queen’s, so I’m looking forward to the tie.”
Donaghey is expecting a tough test against Johnny Law’s side, who only a few weeks ago claimed the Craig Memorial Cup, winning a dramatic shoot-out against Strabane Athletic.
“Once Portstewart came out I felt it was definitely a banana skin tie,” he added. “Everyone is looking for a possible shock and I’m just hoping it’s not us, because there will be a shock of some sort, there always is in the first round.
“I have seen it throughout my career and even a few years ago Queen’s beat Linfield and they took Glentoran all the way that season, so that tells me everything about the Irish Cup.
“Look it’s the most prestigious and biggest cup competition every season and I have tried to explain to the squad how good it is to progress through the competition.
“The chance of maybe getting a big draw and testing yourself against one of the elite teams in the Premiership home or away.
“So look I haven’t played the tie down at all, I’m excited about the game and I hope my squad is also excited, but more importantly they are focused and ready to make sure they are right up for it, because I know Portstewart will be.”
Donaghey confirmed that Aidan McCauley, Liam Walsh and Joel-Bradley Walsh are all likely to miss out on Saturday as are Jake Morrow and Jamie Dunne, who are both cup tied. However recent signings Caolan McLaughlin, Mark McFadden and Ciaran Deery are all available for selection.
“We are hoping for international clearance to be sorted for Caolan, but everything is sorted for both Mark and Ciaran, but unfortunately Jake Morrow is cup tied, as is Jamie Dunne, so they are both unavailable,” he added.
“I’m speaking to a forward and still hopeful of getting another midfielder added to the squad, I have a few irons in the fire and we’ll see what happens over the next few