Dollingstown may have had to wait until the eve of September to kick off the league campaign but can now face Lisburn Distillery bolstered by the perfect preparation.
Blank dates and delays left Dollingstown without a competitive fixture until the midweek League Cup programme and, as a result, Stephen Uprichard’s players tackle Distillery having secured the high-profile knockout scalp of Portadown.
The Dollybirds turned the tables on a 1-0 deficit with second-half goals from Richie Thompson and Keith Johnston for a memorable success under the Shamrock Park floodlights and momentum Uprichard now wants to maximise in pursuit of Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League points.
“I would probably swap the cup result for three points in the league on Saturday,” said Uprichard. “But you want to utilise in the league the confidence that comes from such a thrill off a club of Dollingstown’s stature beating Portadown.
“We have to come down off the buzz of coming to Portadown and winning to try and beat a Lisburn Distillery side in the league with a lot of good players and big signings.
“Results like at Portadown can happen now and again against bigger clubs but we got a boost off the equaliser and scored a penalty plus edged it overall.
“It was our first competitive game and I told the players they didn’t deserve to be trailing at half-time so to believe in the second half.
“The cup win at Portadown was not just about the 11 players who started and that squad mentality is what we will need for the league season.
“Everything has been about building up to Saturday and our job is to improve on last year and the proof of that progress is if we can move up the table.
“Everything is a bonus now in terms of the League Cup draw and what happens next after standing up so well to the task against Portadown.
“You need to settle down off that cup high, focus on preparing for the league then put that same kind of performance in this weekend, as that what it’s going to take in what is going to be a tough division.”
Johnston is one of a number of arrivals this year designed to help Dollingstown develop towards a competitive campaign within the Irish League’s third tier.
“With our signings we looked at everything last season as a management team and what we had to address this campaign, how to strengthen in the right areas with the level of player required for this standard,” said Uprichard. “Last season was about survival and we went with basically the team that won at Mid-Ulster league level into the higher division, where mistakes get punished and chances don’t get put away as often.
“We had players in mind and, thankfully, got those targets so go into what is a difficult league with a squad of around 20.
“Pre-season was planned out but then you get byes in cups so needed to have the guys in last weekend in preparation for Tuesday and a first competitive match.
“So many clubs have signed well and we are a little club trying to do things with the help of so many people buying into that work.
“The set-up at Dollingstown is superb and we are surrounded by people with the right ethos of wanting to come to the club.”