STRABANE Athletic’s player-manager Liam McMenamin is preparing his team for an extremely challenging season and has said that this evening’s Eventec North West Cup quarter-final clash against Championship opponents Institute is an opportunity for his players to lay down an early marker.
‘Stute, who were controversially relegated from the Danske Bank Premiership last season, will be among one of the favourites to win the knockout competition outright but McMenamin is hoping that his players can spring a surprise at the Brandywell.
The former Dungannon Swifts player admits it’ll be a tough ask but on the back of a recent 1-1 draw with Limavady United the Athletic boss is hoping his players will measure up to the challenge.
“The early part of pre-season was difficult for a number of reasons and it was very difficult to gauge exactly where we were at, however in recent games against the likes of Limavady we have been very, very good,” said the 31-year-old.
“I’m intrigued to see where we stand when we come up against Institute which will be a tough test. They have just come down from the Irish League and they’ll be very strong you’d imagine.
“We have got ourselves into good shape, the boys are really fit. We’ll go down there with a bit of a game plan and we won’t be going there to make up the numbers. I strongly fancy us to give Stute a game and do really well. It’ll give us a good marker of where we are at and what our squad is like if we do happen to progress. There are some big clubs in there, it’ll be a good competition if we can progress in it. I’m really looking forward to it.
“There is some suggestion that Stute are going through a bit of a transition period and yes they have lost a few players but is it a good time to play them? It probably is. And that’s what I’m hoping for.
“But at the same time I’m under no illusions it’s still going to be a very difficult game no matter what team they decide to put out or who they have playing. They are still going to be a good side and that has to be respected.”
FULL STORY IN LAST THURSDAY’S STRABANE CHRONICLE