Belfast Telegraph

Beating Ballymena could send Welders on hot streak: Rainey

By David Mason

Striker David Rainey will send an SOS message to his H&W Welders team mates ahead of their Tennent's Irish Cup sixth round clash with Ballymena United at Tillysburn today (1.30pm).

The 40-year-old knows a thing or two about the country's top knockout tournament, having appeared in five finals, and even though this tie smacks of a possible cup upset, Rainey admits it's more of an opportunity to keep the Welders' season alive.

Having plummeted down the Championship table, the east Belfast team sit precariously only seven points above the relegation mire.

It's been quite a culture shock for a team that was pipped by Ards for the league title on the final day of the season last May!

"I don't know why this cup tie could be classed as a possible giant killing chance, but a win would certainly help 'Save Our Season' because we haven't been playing well at all," said Rainey.

"We've let a lot of people down - and more importantly we've let ourselves down the way we have performed. We are sitting in ninth place in the table, but we still hope to make it to the top six. We are now classed as a 'senior club', so it meant that we were ineligible to compete in the Intermediate and Steel & Sons Cups this season, which was a big blow."

Rainey would relish the prospect of making it into the last eight, but knows a big improvement is required.

He added: "It's a big challenge. We all know the job that David Jeffrey has done at Ballymena United ... they have been in the top four or five in the Premiership all season.

"But it's cup football - anything can happen. There is a quarter-final place up for grabs and shocks can happen. We've seen it happen in recent seasons with Queen's University and Lurgan Celtic making it through to the semi-final.

"We'll need to be at our best and that's a tall order.

"I've been in five finals in my days at Glenavon, Crusaders and Glentoran ­- it's a great experience. A cup run would be great - it would help to lift everyone at the club, but more importantly it would help keep our season alive.

"Our focus is on this cup tie - nothing else.

"Some people say our pitch could be a leveller. It can become very heavy which would suit us," he said.

"In saying that, Glenavon came to our place last season in the cup when it was in a terrible state and they turned us over.

"If anything, our recent form would suggest we are playing better away from home this season," he added.

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