STRABANE Athletic are aiming to finish their historic season on a high by capturing the Intermediate League Cup this weekend.
Athletic, who became the first team from the town to win the Northern Ireland Intermediate League this season, face old adversaries Maiden City at Newbuildings tomorrow evening (Friday, kick-off 6.45pm).
Eamon Curry’s team have had a season to remember. Not only did Athletic complete their league campaign unbeaten with 11 wins and three draws in 14 games but against all the odds they also reached the quarter-finals of the Tennents Irish Cup.
The only real blemish thus far – if you can even call it that – was losing to Newbuidings United in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup, although that defeat came hot on the heels of a period of unprecedented celebration after Athletic finally exorcised the ghost of a Strabane team having never won the Intermediate League title.
Friday night’s showdown with Maiden City offers Athletic redemption for that particular blot on their copybook as well as an opportunity to round off an historic season in style.
Given City, the team which finished runners-up in the league, will be determined to finish their season by clinching the prestigious silverware, it would appear that all the ingredients are in place for a thrilling contest.
Strabane captain Liam McMenamin knows only too well that the league champions face a tough encounter.
“The last two times we played Maiden City there wasn’t much in it,” said the Athetic skipper. We beat them 1-0 in Strabane and they scored a late penalty to draw 1-1 in the last league game. They are a good young side with a few experienced heads in there. They are similar to ourselves in many ways and they play decent football.
“After winning the league the celebrations probably went on a bit too long. We lost the intensity and were ring-rusty in a few league games.
“When losing to Newbuildings in the cup we got everything we deserved. They are building a good team and thoroughly deserved the win.
“After that we regrouped, knuckled down to some hard work in an effort to finish the season by winning another trophy.”
Barring any last-minute injuries Athletic are reporting a clean bill of health for the showpiece decider.
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