Drumaness not feeling the pressure ahead of Clarence Cup final clash with Ards
Drumaness Mills joint manager Dessie Campbell says the pressure is off his team in this season’s Clarence Cup final, as they chase an unforgettable double.
As far as he and his fellow gaffer David Straney are concerned, the difficult part was done with last weekend’s Amateur League Premier Division title victory. If they can win this too, it will be the icing on the cake.
That isn’t to say, they don’t want it... badly.
Campbell stated: "We are totally up for it. It has been 20 years since we last won a trophy – which was the Clarence Cup, funnily enough, - and now we have a chance to win two in two weeks.
"We didn’t necessarily start out targeting the Clarence Cup. It has just happened that way. At one point, it looked as if Crumlin Star were going to win the league, so we thought the Clarence was the only one we had left to be able to win this season.
"It probably kept us going in the league too. I suppose, in a way, you could say it was the secret weapon in helping us win the title."
Drumaness know only too well about the danger posed by Ards Rangers. As well as beating them 2-1 on their own turf, they were victim to a 6-0 drubbing by Rangers at their Meadowvale home.
Campbell continued: "We were missing key players like Conor and Paul Walsh, Gavin McEvoy and Brendan Ward that day – but they still had to come and beat us.
"I’m not exaggerating when I say I think they have been the best footballing side we have faced all season."
That threat however, has been unquestionably reduced by the news that they will be without the services of three of the main players who helped their charge to a fourth place finish, just six points behind the champions.
Jamie Patterson, Johnny Roy and Ricky Rutherford will miss Thursday’s final at the Killyleagh Showgrounds (6.45pm), through suspension. All three have picked up a one-match ban through an accumulation of five yellow cards each.
It is a huge disappointment for Rangers boss Lee Forsythe, who has been frustrated by the timing and circumstances surrounding the suspensions.
He said: "We are the only team who had a game two days either side of their Clarence Cup final. Drumaness had their game on the Thursday night against Nortel postponed until May 6 and we had to play Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, whereas Drumaness got a rest that Thursday. Why were the semi-finals not played on the same day as usual?
"If we had had our Thursday match against Islandmagee moved to May 6, then Jamie and Johnny would have missed that, and wouldn’t be ruled out of the final. Plus, they picked up their last yellow cards on April 5, and Ricky got his on March 29. Why has it taken until now before the suspensions have come through? It is too long.
"I am not saying anyone has done this on purpose, but it has been done shabbily. There has been no thought process behind it. I just don’t understand the logic."
What’s more, Forsythe believes that these issues have detracted from one of the games of the Amateur League season.
He added: "I think it has killed a really good game and a good spectacle. A lot of people would have been going to see two great teams play good football, but I won’t be able to do that with my team now. I will need to set my team up in a certain way to try and get a result.
"This was going to be tough for us, but if Drumaness were favourites before, they are the runaway favourites now. There is no point in lying about it, it is a massive task for us now.
"But if I didn’t think there was enough quality in my team to win this match, I wouldn’t even bother turning up. I have to hope that my players will pull together in the face of this adversity."
Belfast Telegraph Digital