Killymoon Rangers have already hit the jackpot in the Irish Cup — and now they are aiming to make the biggest day in their history even better by adding to Glentoran’s woes in the competition.
The famous silverware was virtually property of east-Belfast when the Glens won it 11 times in a 22-year period from 1983 to 2004.
That, however, was the last time the trophy resided at the Oval and after last season’s embarrassing exit at the hands of Amateur League side Newington YC led to the departure of manager Scott Young, Killymoon are planning to prolong the agony.
“We’re never going to win the Irish Cup and this is only the second time we’ve been in the fifth round,” said Killymoon manager Steven McIlhatton.
“The draw couldn’t have been better for us. We were hoping for either one of the Amateur League teams to give us a chance of going further or one of the big guns.
“When Glentoran came out we were over the moon with it.
“We have played both Glentoran and Linfield away over the last two-and-a-half years and those were great experiences, but to have one of the giants of Northern Ireland football coming to us is a special day for the club.”
And while the welcome mat will be rolled out for the Glens at the Cookstown Council owned Mid-Ulster Sports Arena, the hosts are determined to turn up the heat once the clock ticks to 3pm.
“You never go into a game thinking that you’re going to lose and cup football has been full of shocks over the years,” said McIlhatton.
“We’ve had Glentoran watched a couple of times and while they are a very good team with some very talented individuals, they also have some weaknesses, which it will be up to us to try to exploit.
“We’ll go in with a game plan, we’ll try to nullify their main threats and frustrate them.
“We know Glentoran won’t be complacent after they lost to Newington last season and Eddie Patterson will probably play his strongest side.
“Glentoran fans will be coming down thinking they will see their team score five or six goals so if we can keep it tight, upset their rhythm and maybe get the fans turning on them..”
With the pre-match excitement building up over a period of weeks, McIlhatton is now happy that the time has come to play the game and he expects his players to be focused, having been distracted since the draw was made.
“When we played them at the Oval 18 months ago we were 4-0 down at half-time and the game was over,” said McIlhatton.
“We lost 4-0 against the PSNI last week, but I think the boys have taken their eye off the ball in the league since the Irish Cup draw was made.
“One or two were a couple of bookings away from a suspension, so maybe weren’t making as many tackles as they would usually and I think last week it was a case of them making sure they didn’t get injured and miss the big game.
“That won’t be a problem now. We have big players like our captain Stephen Pervis, Mark Harkness, Jason Ferry and Barrie Kelly who can cause Glentoran problems if they get the opportunity.”