Kevin Deery believes Institute can 'do something special' ahead of Irish Cup tie with Ards

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​KEVIN Deery reminded his Institute players they have three months remaining to 'do something special' as they lock their sights on promotion to the Irish Premiership and an extended Irish Cup run.

​The club has punched above its weight this season and sit proudly on the summit of the Playr-fit Championship, leading Dundela by a point after 26 games played.

The East Belfast men do have two games in hand but Deery would've bitten your hand off if he was offered this position at the start of the season having inherited a young, inexperienced team low on confidence after two years flirting with relegation.

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This weekend Deery's troops can park that promising league campaign and concentrate on the Irish Cup sixth round where they meet fellow Championship outfit Ards at Brandywell and the 'Stute boss believes his team have an opportunity to progress and potentially set up a meeting with one of the Premiership big guns in the next round.

‘Stute must first take care of an Ards team who held them to a 2-2 draw at Clandeboye Park last weekend and Deery isn't taking the Co. Down men for granted.

He gave most of his squad a run-out in Wednesday night's Billy Kee Memorial Cup 3-0 loss to Derry City and he's confident they will be in good shape going into Saturday's tie.

"It's a tough test," he agreed. "Every time we played them this year we came out 3-2 winners and then 2-2 at the weekend. So there's been very little between both teams.

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"I think that was a tough test against Derry so it will be taxing on the boys but we have a big enough squad and we'll use it to the full on Saturday."

Institute’s Orin McLaughlin and Caoimhin tackle Derry City’s Patrick McEleney. Photograph: George Sweeney.Institute’s Orin McLaughlin and Caoimhin tackle Derry City’s Patrick McEleney. Photograph: George Sweeney.
Institute’s Orin McLaughlin and Caoimhin tackle Derry City’s Patrick McEleney. Photograph: George Sweeney.

Deery was delighted with the turnout in the Billy Kee Cup Final and hopes Institute fans and North West football supporters in general can come out and lend their support.

"That's what we spoke about, playing in front of decent crowds, that's what we're chasing. There's probably close to 800 or 900 here tonight and if we get through against Ards which will be tough we could have one of the big boys coming here.

"If you get a bit of luck in the draw you could have the Glens or Linfield who would obviously bring big travelling support. So we're hopeful for a tie like that but we just want to be in the hat for the next round."

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It's always difficult playing the same opposition in quick succession but Ards will likely ring the changes on Saturday following the arrival of defenders Odhran McCart on loan from Larne and Corai Quinn from Linfield and also strikers Lee Newell (Newry City) and Guillaume Keke from Knockbreda.

"We didn't get the win last week but we want to have that control again and give nothing away at the back. We want to be really strong and dogged in midfield. I feel if we give ourselves a platform we can win any game in the Championship and we're facing a Championship team in the Irish cup so that's what we're looking for."

While Ards have brought in a few new faces, there's been several departures at Institute with Mark Mbuli heading to Finn Harps and Kirk McLaughlin returning to Glentoran who recalled the striker early from his loan spell.

"We need everyone firing this Saturday," added Deery. "Ards have a few new signings who weren't available on Saturday. They signed two new strikers, one from Newry and one from Knockbreda so they will have those two to add to their squad and I'd imagine they will shape up a bit differently.

“We know what we're up against and we have to play our own game. We're at home and have brilliant home form so we want to get into the hat make no mistake about that. "