Tennent’s Irish Cup: Loughgall v Crumlin Star

Loughgall manager Dean Smith
Loughgall manager Dean Smith

Loughgall boss Dean Smith is searching for fresh focus this weekend following festive frustration across the league campaign.

Home advantage on Saturday (3pm) for the fifth-round Irish Cup clash with Crumlin Star presents the next opportunity for the Villagers to get back on track.

Successive setbacks in the Bluefin Sport Championship to Portadown and Dundela have cut short previous progress up the league standings.

As a result, Smith enters the knockout test at Lakeview Park keen to see a switch of competition produce a shift in fortune.

“Sometimes that change can just help everyone move past some bad results in one competition and approach the new challenge with a clean slate,” said Smith. “That’s the hope and we have been working hard in preparation as everyone wants a good run over the Irish Cup.

“In recent games we’ve been frustrated at throwing away points but the close run of Christmas games offers a tough ask physically for any semi-professional club.

“People will look at Crumlin Star as a team from the Northern Amateur Football League but we’ve done our homework and know to expect a tough test.

“There is always a cup upset, when a club from a lower level claims a shock, so we need to make sure people are not talking about Loughgall on Saturday evening in that way.

“It may not be a familiar opponent for our players but, first and foremost, we always concentrate on getting right our own preparations.”

Star travel to Loughgall buoyed by their Border Regiment Cup final success over Ballynahinch Olympic, the current Northern Amateur League Premier champions prevailing in a penalty shoot-out.