Belfast Telegraph

Duke determined Dollingstown will show their class

By Martin Mawhinney

Dollingstown manager Gary Duke is relishing the opportunity to prove his side have what it takes to join the ranks of the Championship, as they prepare to take on Armagh City in this morning's Bob Radcliffe Cup final (Lakeview Park, Loughgall 11am).

The Mid-Ulster Intermediate A team have broken the regular trend of all-Championship finals by reaching the blue riband game for the first time in their history.

And Duke, so accustomed to carrying the weight of expectation on his shoulders going into finals, is enjoying being the outsiders on this occasion.

"It will be a novelty for us, not going in as favourites for a change," he said.

"The draw has been kind to us, and we haven't played played any Championship teams this year, but it's hard to say whether that was a big factor in us getting into the final.

"If everything goes according to plan, we will be playing Armagh City in the Championship next season, so this is the ideal chance to see what standard we are at."

If Dollingstown are to achieve their dream of reaching the Championship, they'll first need to win their league title and at present that goal appears to be on course with a maximum 24 points from their first eight games.

Armagh City manager Marty Rice is only too aware of this outstanding form and he will ensure that there is no danger of his players taking the opposition lightly.

"I don't think there is such a thing as favourites when you get to a cup final," he said.

"In any case, we know how good a side Dollingstown are... they are a Championship club in all but name and will be using this game to prove that.

"For us, it is all about our young team getting big game experience and they don't really come much bigger or more prestigious than this one."

Belfast Telegraph


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