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Carrick up for Cup and desperate to make Mark in league

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 05/03/2016

On the ball: Carrick’s Mark Surgenor would love to reach the Irish Cup Final but admits Premier League survival is priority
On the ball: Carrick’s Mark Surgenor would love to reach the Irish Cup Final but admits Premier League survival is priority

Mark Surgenor says he would swap Irish Cup glory for staying in the Danske Bank Premiership with Carrick Rangers this season.

The east Antrim side will aim to move a step nearer to their first final since 1995 when they take on Crusaders this afternoon.

But they are big underdogs ahead of the quarter-final clash, which is being played at Seaview.

Carrick are second-bottom of the league and fighting to avoid relegation. And Surgenor believes survival is the priority, regardless of today's result.

"I know which I would prefer, and that is to stay in the league," the defender said.

"Of course it's a massive game - it's the quarter-final of the Irish Cup - but for me the league is more important.

"That has to be our focus. We want to win the game, and we'll do our best, but staying up is the main aim."

Carrick claimed a vital 1-0 victory over Dungannon on Wednesday night to move off the foot of the table. It was their second successive clean sheet.

But Surgenor admits they face a massive test against Stephen Baxter's side.

"Crusaders have quality and depth to their squad," he added.

"It doesn't matter what team Stephen Baxter puts out, they are a quality side and it will be a really big test for us.

"We will give it our best shot. We won't lie down. We'll show the same effort we did against Dungannon and we'll see where it takes us."

Surgenor was part of the Ballymena side that reached the Irish Cup final back in 2014.

He was an unused substitute as the Sky Blues lost 2-1 to Glenavon.

The 30-year-old admits he has unfinished business with the Irish Cup.

"We were pretty unfortunate," he added.

"I didn't get on the pitch myself that day, which doesn't sit too well with me, but that's football.

"To get to an Irish Cup final is a great day out, especially for the fans.

"For players it is more nerves than anything else. You just want to get the game over with and you almost forget the occasion and the build-up.

"If we could do both - get to the final and stay up - it would be great.

"But for now staying in the league is the priority."

Belfast Telegraph

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