Manager’s programme notes
Posted : 5th January 2019
Today we welcome Ballyclare Comrades to Windsor Park for this Irish Cup tie and our aim is to win, to secure a place in the draw for the next round of this hugely prestigious knock-out cup competition.
We have prepared thoroughly and professionally for this game and our scouts, as always, have prepared detailed reports on our opponents. Ballyclare will come here with nothing to lose and believing they can cause an upset, so we will have to ensure that we do not fall victim to any giant killing today. Ballyclare will take inspiration and confidence from their League Cup win against us several years ago at Dixon Park, so we must ensure there is no repeat today.
The Irish Cup is a major priority for us this season, as we have fond memories of our 3-0 win in the cup final in the season before last but before we can start to dream of a return to the showpiece final in May, we have to give Ballyclare our full focus and attention today.
We will be kept busy with Cup football over the coming weeks but we wouldn’t have it any other way. As well as today’s Irish Cup tie, we will face Ballymena in the County Antrim Shield semi final on Tuesday and then we will face the same opponents in the League Cup final on February 16. Our aim is always the same - to win each game, as it comes along.
We are in a pleasing run of form and results at present, with recent victories against Glentoran (4-0), Cliftonville (2-0) and Ards (2-0) rounding off a highly satisfying but demanding schedule of fixtures over the festive period. I’ve been pleased with our attitude and our momentum but there is no substitute for continued hard work and total concentration and application.
We will assess the squad for injuries before today’s game and although there hasn’t been many changes in the starting line-up in recent weeks, I’ve no doubt that we will need to fully rely on the strength in depth in our squad, to see us through the tough set of fixtures ahead.
Michael O’Connor will rejoin the squad today following suspension and Lorcan Forde has benefited from game time with the Swifts in recent weeks, after his long injury lay-off.
In th coming weeks we hope to have our other long term injury casualties available, so getting Ryan McGivern, Mark Haughey and Cameron Stewart available will almost be like having new signings available, to help us through a demanding run-in to the end of the season.
I’ve agreed that Alex Moore’s loan arrangement at Dungannon should be extended until the end of the season but Ryan Strain has returned to us, following the expiry of his loan spell at Ards.
We have received tremendous vocal backing from our supporters who have turned out in large numbers during what has been a busy schedule at this time of time of year when budgets are fully stretched to the limit and beyond. Your sacrifices and your encouragement are greatly appreciated and we will be doing all in our power today and in the coming weeks to reward your patience and loyalty with the success you deserve.