A HIGH-PROFILE fifth round Tennents Irish Cup tie is the potential carrot dangling in front of Strabane Athletic as they host St James’ Swifts in Round Four at Melvin on Saturday.
Athletic are just 90 minutes away (and possibly extra-time and penalties) from throwing their name in the hat for the lucrative fifth round draw which takes place on Thursday next.
Athletic’s last and only time to mix it with the big boys was back in 2014 when they took Danske Bank Premiership neighbours Ballinamallard United to a replay before exiting the premier cup competition.
Strabane, who were defeated 2-1 by Tobermore United in the semi-final of the Craig Memorial Cup last weekend, would relish another crack at one of the big guns, however manager Eamon Curry is looking no further away than Saturday’s clash against the Ballymena and Provincial Intermediate League representatives. Like Strabane, Swifts, too, harbour ambitions of one day joining the Championship ranks and Curry is expecting a hard fought cup-tie.
“I have told the players that this is their final,” he said.
“It would be great to be in the hat for round five and pull out Linfield at the National Stadium. Wouldn’t that be a great occasion for the club.
“Before that though there is a job to be done. The only focus at this stage is Saturday, where we are at half-time, where we are at full time. This game isn’t going to define our season. Both teams are doing well, both teams have quality players. If we won on Saturday then we could be looking forward to a big day out for the fans, lose and we move onto the next league game.”
Strabane have meanwhile bolstered their attacking options by signing striker Warner Mullen after he was released by Bluefin Sport Championship outfit Ballinamallard United.
Saturday’s cup-tie kicks off at 1.30pm