Jonny steps into firing line for Dungannon Swifts
The Irish Cup has thrown up many unlikely heroes down the years.
And today Jonny Curran will be hoping he can write his name into the history books when Dungannon Swifts and Crusaders do battle for a place in local football’s biggest game of the season.
The 25-year-old goalkeeper faces the toughest test of his short soccer career when he deputises for the suspended Niall Morgan at Mourneview Park.
Curran has never played a senior game for the club before, but will be in the firing line as Dungannon bid to reach their second Irish Cup final in six years.
But far from being intimidated by the prospect of playing in Swifts’ biggest game of the season so far, Curran is relishing the challenge.
“There aren’t many nerves — it’s something I’m looking forward to,” he said.
“I’m being thrown in at the deep end but it will be a fantastic experience.”
Dungannon were forced to turn to Curran after regular keeper Morgan was sent off against Glenavon last weekend. While it is hardly the ideal time to make his full Swifts debut, Curran is no stranger to the big occasion having played for the Tyrone GAA senior team (pictured).
And he believes that experience will ease any nerves ahead of kick-off.
“I’m used to playing in front of big crowds through the GAA so I don’t think the occasion will get to me — I’m more concerned about putting in a good performance,” he added. “I’ve got experience of playing in big games and big atmospheres, and Saturday will be no different.”
Ironically Curran was en route to Tyrone’s National Football League clash with Meath on Sunday when the call came asking him to play against Crusaders.
“It came out of the blue — I never expected to play in the first team, let alone an Irish Cup semi-final,” he added.
“I’ve played with Dungannon’s reserves and in the Mid-Ulster Cup, but this is an Irish Cup semi-final and it's a completely different type of test. It’s probably the biggest soccer game I’ll ever play in.”
Curran had been struggling with a groin problem, however he was never worried about missing out.
“I’ve had a bit of bother with it earlier in the season but it has cleared up — I will be fine for Saturday,” he added.
Dungannon have not beaten Crusaders since April 2010 but the stage is set for Curran to become an instant hero.