Belfast Telegraph

Colin Valley taking extra cup games in their stride

By Martin Mawhinney

Colin Valley may be adding to their fixture backlog with continued progress in this year’s Clarence Cup - but that’s not something that greatly concerns their assistant manager Paul McDonald.

The Poleglass men travel to Lisburn Rangers in the fourth round of the competition this Saturday, and Valley manager Danny McMullan’s right hand man insists they are fully determined to secure a place in the quarter-finals.

That would inevitably have an effect on their league aspirations, with their 3-2 defeat against Newcastle on Saturday officially marking the halfway stage of their Division 1B campaign, and with 13 games still to squeeze in before early May, but McDonald wants his players to keep plugging on.

He said: “We are in it to win it. Ballynahinch have stolen a bit of a march on us at the top of the league, so the title is probably out of reach now, but we still want to finish the season off as strongly as possible.

“We actually played Lisburn Rangers in a pre-season friendly last summer, and they beat us 4-1, and I was watching them against Drumaness last Saturday, and they looked good.

“They are in a league above us and going for promotion, so to me, they have to be favourites. But then again, we have beaten Shankill United this season, and they are at the top of the Premier Division - so we know that, on our day, we can give anyone a game. I don’t know that there’s that much of a difference between the divisions in this competition… sometimes it can be just down to which team is carrying the least injuries and suspensions.”

Spirits were high going into this season, with the boost of lifting last season’s 1C title in style providing plenty of belief - but McDonald suggests his club may have to take a closer look at what matters most to them, moving forward.

He continued: “There are no direct plans to be getting promoted season-after-season - if we don’t do it this year, we’ll have a go next year. At the minute, we are focused on getting our youth teams running - we are getting caught up with that.

“The Mac (Immaculata) have done well going up through the leagues, but even St Pat’s have hit a wall in 1A there. When we won 22 games in a row last season, you could see we were a step above 1C , but this season, I think we are as good as a lot of the teams. I don’t think any of the teams in this league are better than us, but I’m not saying we are the best either.

“It is hard for us (with all these games left to play), so maybe next year, we are going to have to set out our priorities in terms of which competitions we really want to go for. There are competitions that we have no chance of winning, and others that we have a much better chance in.”

The Clarence Cup certainly falls into that latter category. And with a home tie in the last eight awaiting the winner of this Saturday’s encounter, both Colin Valley and Lisburn Rangers have all the incentive they need.

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