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Boss John Bailie urging Ards to maintain their focus

By Keith Bailie

Published 01/01/2016

John Bailie (left, seen here in his Ards days, wants back in the top flight, this time with Bangor
John Bailie (left, seen here in his Ards days, wants back in the top flight, this time with Bangor

Former club captain and current assistant manager John Bailie has warned the Ards players they must forget about next month's JBE League Cup final and focus on the club's promotion push, starting with tomorrow's trip to Dixon Park.

On February 13, Ards will face Cliftonville at Solitude in their first senior cup final since 2004, but Bailie believes the Championship title race should be the priority. If Ards can beat Ballyclare Comrades they will go eight points clear at the top of the table.

Bailie said: "Everyone is talking about the Cliftonville final but I want the players to put that to the back of their minds. Yes, it's a massive achievement but we've four massive league games between now and the cup final and they're just as important."

Ards have bolstered their squad by signing midfielder David McCullough from Dungannon Swifts, but he won't be available for the Dixon Park fixture. This is Danny McKee's last match for Ards before returning to Glentoran.

Elsewhere in Championship One, Institute travel to Knockramer Park to face Lurgan Celtic just four days after losing 2-1 to local rivals Limavady United in the Craig Memorial Cup final. Stute manager Kevin Deery will be without Aaron Harkin, who was sent off during the decider.

With five teams set to be relegated from Championship Two in 2016, all eyes are on the bottom half of the table. Banbridge Town host Coagh United while Newington face Dollingstown at Seaview.

There will also be nine outstanding Intermediate Cup Second Round fixtures played.

The pick of the bunch sees Border Regiment Cup winners East Belfast travel to Inver Park to play David McAlinden's Larne.

In the Irish Cup, Abbey Villa and Rathfriland Rangers will play their postponed Fourth Round clash at Adams Park.

Belfast Telegraph

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