Gerard Lyttle spends his working life preparing pizzas in his own north-Belfast takeaway. Tomorrow in the Irish Cup he is planning to give Dungannon Swifts a grilling.
Lyttle’s Malachians side served up the biggest upset of the fourth round when the Amateur League men dumped Championship high-flyers Limavady United out of the competition.
Now he is hoping to give the Swifts some food for thought by topping off their Cup adventure with a top flight scalp.
Malachians’ first Irish Cup game of the season came way back in September when they beat Ballynure OB 3-1. Since then they have seen off 1st Bangor and Newcastle before that win over the Roesiders — and they’ve got just the reward they had hoped for.
“We wanted a Premiership team and like anyone else from our level we’d have liked Glentoran or Linfield, but at the minute Dungannon Swifts aren’t far away from the Big Two,” said Lyttle, who is concentrating on managing these days, with his boots all but hung up at the tender age of 32.
“They’ve a few good players in their squad, are fourth in the league and when I watched them against Cliftonville last month they looked a more than decent side.
“Nobody expected us to beat Limavady and nobody will expect us to beat Dungannon either, but we’ll be giving it a go and it would be nice to do it again.”
Despite spells with Ballymena United, Lisburn Distillery and two stays at Cliftonville, the longest cup run that former Celtic apprentice Lyttle has enjoyed was with another north Belfast Amateur League side, Newington YC, when they reached the quarter-finals in 2006 before losing out to Larne.
“We had two players sent-off that day, a goal disallowed and a penalty given against us and felt robbed,” said Lyttle.
“I only play nowadays when I’m needed to fill in for injuries or suspensions.”
While Lyttle has told his players to rest and relax this evening, it’ll be another late shift for him, feeding the hungry bellies of north- Belfast.
And while Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini finds it strange that his players aren’t eating pizza before games, they won’t be on Malachians’ pre-match menu.
“The business is going well. I do a bit of everything, from making the pizzas to going out on the deliveries, but I enjoy it,” said Lyttle.
“I’m not going to be getting them ready for the boys to eat on the bus up to Stangmore Park though.”