STRABANE Athletic get their NI Intermediate League campaign underway with a derby clash at Ardstraw tomorrow, but after a draining effort at Ballymoney United last weekend, manager Eamon Curry is sweating on the fitness of several key players.
Sean Ferry, Ronan McBrearty, Kyle Harte and Liam McMenamin are classed as doubtful, while Aodhan Doherty has been ruled out of the encounter at Vaughan’s Holm.
And while hopeful of nursing at least a couple of the walking wounded through tomorrow’s league opener, Curry is keen for his charges not to get distracted by the derby label.
“It’s another game of football as far as I’m concerned,” he stressed. “Yes, it’s a local derby, but to win the league you have to beat more than just one team.
“I know some managers like to get wired up about derbies, but you only get three points for a win.
“We have a job to do on the pitch and if we play well as a team and keep our emotions in check, hopefully we’ll get the three points.”
On the back of last Saturday’s 5-1 win over Ballymoney in the Irish Cup at the Riada Stadium (report on page 63), Strabane will go into this weekend’s game with confidence and while they may be without a couple of key players, Curry is hoping to be boosted by the return of Aaron Patterson.
“Aaron gave me a call during the summer, wanting to come back and play football, and since he came in his attitude has been fantastic, I can’t fault him, so hopefully we can get his registration through, which would be a bonus,” he confirmed.
With this season marking Strabane Athletic’s 10th, Curry is hopeful he can be the man to finally lead a team from the town to the NI Intermediate League title.
“I’d like to think that if we show enough in terms of work-rate that we’ll be up there, but it’s a difficult league to win and we’ve never done it,” he acknowledged.
“It would be lovely to do it in the club’s 10th year, but there have been some great Strabane teams and managers, who haven’t done it. But hopefull this year, with a bit of luck, we’ll get it over the line.”
Kick-off at Vaughans Holm tomorrow is 2pm.