TROJANS manager, Paul Higgins recognises his side go into tomorrow’s Irish Cup fifth round clash with Championship outfit Armagh City as ‘massive underdogs’ but he believes the Creggan men are capable of pulling off a real shock!
It’s one of the biggest matches in the history of the Oakland Park club and a place in the last 16 of the Irish League’s Blue Riband competition and a potential tie against one of the big Belfast clubs is still within their grasps.
Firstly the Creggan men need to see off the challenge of Armagh City at Holm Park (Kick-off 3 p.m.) but Higgins reckons his players go into the game with the ‘belief’ they can keep their Irish Cup fairytale alive.
“We’re all looking forward to it,” said the Trojans boss. “It’s a big day out for the club. It’s a big day for myself and we’ve never been to the fifth round so the whole club’s on a buzz at the minute. The players can’t wait.
“We’ve come through four tough rounds already. We’ve been away to Belfast and beat top amateur sides so we haven’t had it easy.”
Trojans have defeated Immaculata (3-1), Crumlin Star (1-2), 18th Newtonabbey Old Boys and Drumaness Mills (3-1) along the way and although Higgins is reluctant to look beyond Championship strugglers, Armagh City, it’s a fantastic chance for the Creggan men to progress.
We didn’t get the fairytale tie against one of the big Belfast teams we were hoping for but we’ve got a tie we could get something out of. We go in as massive underdogs but we’re working on getting something out of the game. And we go in with belief!Paul Higgins
“We’ve played well during those opening rounds. And going in as underdogs suits us. It takes the pressure off us. But our boys don’t feel under any pressure, they just go out and express themselves and do what they can.
“If we get something out of it then brilliant, but we’re going for the experience. It’s a day out for the club and a big occasion for us.
“It’s an exciting time for myself and the team and for the club as a whole. We’ve got a chance to get into the last 16. “We didn’t get the fairy-tale tie against one of the big Belfast teams we were hoping for but we’ve got a tie we could get something out of. We go in as massive underdogs but we’re working on getting something out of the game. And we go in with belief!”
Higgins is hopeful his side, which boasts a nice blend of both youth and experience, will be in the hat for the sixth round draw which takes place at 5.30 p.m. tomorrow evening.
And why shouldn’t he be optimistic as they go into the game on the back of a four game winning run in the N. Ireland Intermediate League?
With former senior players such as Darren McCready, Darren McFadden and Eugene Ferry to call upon, Trojans certainly won’t be pushovers and the plastic pitch at Holm Park should work in their favour.
The club even had a helping hand by former manager, Kevin Deery who won an historic treble for the local junior side prior to taking the Institute hotseat, as he fielded a strong team against his old side in a friendly match at the Riverside Stadium on Tuesday night.
‘Stute won that game 2-0 with Sammy Morrow and Ryan Doherty getting the goals, but it was a very worthwhile exercise for Higgins’ men in preparation for Saturday’s Irish Cup clash.
“The Christmas break came at the wrong time for us but we had a friendly on Tuesday night at Institute to keep us going.
“It was more about working on our shape, the back four and little things, Institute are a quality team, they’re second in the Championship and Kevin put out a full team as he’s working on his own team for Saturday. We learned a lot from it.”
Armagh boast former Institute and Derry City and Institute goalkeeper John Connolly and Higgins expects a tough, physical encounter.
“I’ve watched them and they’re a strong, physical side which is something we’re probably not used to but we’ll have to adapt.”
There’s a few players in his own squad who certainly are not shrinking violets, with Brian McClean in defence and ex-Derry City and Stute midfielder, Tommy McBride also in the side.
“We can mix it up and be physical ourselves. We have experience in the right places, right through the spine of the team. So those boys will keep the younger players level-headed on the day.”