Paddy McLaughlin has had plenty of experience in major cup competitions down through the years and he knows exactly what’s at stake when Institute take on Kilmore Rec in an Irish Cup sixth round tie at the Riverside tomorrow. (Kick-off 3.00 p.m.)
SIMON COLLINS reports
The 33 year-old centre-half netted Coleraine’s only goal in a 2-1 defeat to Linfield in the 2009 Irish Cup decider at and he was part of Derry City’s FAI Cup winning team in 2002.
While he missed out on Institute’s best ever run in the Irish League’s Blue Riband competition when John Gregg’s side reached the semi-finals in 2009 before they were knocked out by Crusaders, he believes the current crop of players have the potential to go one better this season.
“I was lucky enough to play in a cup final for Coleraine and I scored but we were beaten 2-1 by Linfield,” he recalled. “Hopefully I can get another chance to experience that.
“And I was lucky enough to play in a cup final for Derry City as well so it will be great for the younger players to experience that because it will drive them on for the next couple of years. That taste of success gives you an appetite to demand more.
“Without disrespecting Kilmore Rec, we would be expecting to get through to the next round and if we get through to the quarter-finals, we would fancy our chances against any of the remaining sides in the competition in a one-off game. So anything can happen!
“It’s a massive incentive to win this match, especially for the club in terms of finance,” he continued.
“To get a home draw against one of the top Premier League sides in the quarter-finals would attract a big crowd to the Riverside.
“It’s a massive opportunity for the players to go and show how good they are.”
The Creggan man is experienced enough to know they can’t underestimate their Amateur League opposition tomorrow and he insists they must be prepared to match Kilmore’s physicality.
“We’ve learned our lessons from the past couple of rounds, especially in the Intermediate Cup where we faced a few junior sides and taken them for granted.
“We made hard work of the last few junior football teams we played. It’s a massive game because it’s a great chance for the club to get into the quarter-finals of the Irish Cup.
“Then you’re only two games away from the final, so you’ve got to be taking it seriously at this stage of the competition.”
Kilmore Rec eliminated ‘Stute’s fellow Championship side, Tobermore United, in the last round of the competition, therefore, McLaughlin is expecting them to arrive at the Riverside Stadium in confident mood.
“I was speaking to a couple of the Tobermore boys a couple of weeks ago after we played them in Intermediate Cup and they had just played Kilmore Rec a couple of days before that.
“They were saying that Kilmore were a big, physical side and they didn’t let Tobermore settle on the ball at all.
“I’m sure that’s what they’ll be doing to us, they’ll not be standing off us, that’s for sure and letting us play. It’s going to be tough and probably a lot more physical than what we’re used to but we’ll be ready for them.”
Key faces selection
‘Stute boss, Paul Kee will face a selection dilemma for tomorrow’s game following McLaughlin’s return from injury as the pairing of Graham Crown and John Curran proved successful in their 1-3 victory over Loughgall last weekend.
And given that tomorrow’s fixture will be Crown’s final game for the club before he leaves to study in Switzerland, Kee could well decide to keep faith with his partnership with Curran.
Regardless of his defensive selection, Kee is expecting is side to progress comfortably to the quarter-finals.
“It’s a massive game for Kilmore Rec, so they’ll be highly motivated and we’ll have to break their resolve,” claimed the Institute boss.
“It’s a major cup competition. Getting a home draw and a team from one of the lower divisions is exactly the kind of draw you want.
“However, when you play a team from a lower division people are always looking for a giant-killing and because they’ve already put out a Championship team it makes the tie all that more interesting.
“But our home form has been good and we have enough quality players to win matches at this level.
“The players are well aware of the reward for winning this game.
“We will be one game away from the semi-final so the incentive for them is there.”