KILMORE Rec player manager Mark Holland says his team have nothing to fear ahead of their Irish Cup fifth round clash with Ballyclare Comrades this Saturday – a fact clearly underlined by their latest victory.
On Saturday, a far from full-strength Kilmore tore apart a Shankill United side who are five points ahead of them in the Amateur League Premier Division, with a comprehensive 8-2 Clarence Cup first round win, to give them a timely boost ahead of this weekend’s clash.
The remarkable result comes at a time when Kilmore are struggling for numbers, due to widespread injuries… and the return of Holland signified just how tight things are at the minute.
The former Cliftonville man was on target twice, adding to goals from Joe McKinney, Owen Curran and Eoin Boyle and a seven-minute hat-trick from substitute Philip Trainor.
Yet Holland, who was playing for the first time in ten weeks after recovering from a hernia operation wasn’t even intending to include himself in the line-up.
He explained: “Aaron McGarry had been carrying a knee injury from the Border Cup final, and he pulled up just before the game on Saturday, so I had to pull the boots on, to cover the defence.
“It felt good to score again, and to be back on the pitch, but I had to come off after 78 minutes… that was enough for me. I’d prefer not to play this Saturday, but I’ve six players out at the minute, and I mightn’t have much choice.”
Another familiar face also joined in with Kilmore’s memorable win, as former manager Gary Kennedy left his usual role playing for the second team to join the attack for the firsts.
The overall performance, as well as the result, has given Holland plenty of food for thought ahead of this weekend’s high-profile tie.
He continued: “I had to go with a team on Saturday that I wouldn’t necessarily have picked otherwise, but they just went to show me who really wants to play for this team, and I’d have no problem picking them again.
“I have already told the boys, there is no pressure on them for this Saturday’s game. No-one expects us to win, so we can just go out and enjoy ourselves.
“We got to the quarter-final of last year’s competition and we have been doing well in the Irish Cup lately, so long may it continue.”
The only downside in this positive week for Kilmore has been Peter Telford’s decision to retire due to a recurring back injury.
The prolific striker has been one of the top players in his position over the past number of years, and his departure will be keenly felt by Kilmore as they look to haul themselves into a Premier Division title challenge.
Holland added: “It’s a massive loss for us. He is a quality player – everybody knows that – but now we have the task of finding someone to fill his place.”
Elsewhere in Saturday’s Clarence Cup first round games, Carryduff beat Bryansburn Rangers 6-4 and Larne Tech Old Boys beat Kircubbin 1-0.