Setanta Sports Cup: Wright ready for battle with pal O’Neill
Lisburn Distillery take on Airtricity Premier League champions Shamrock Rovers at home in the first leg of the Setanta Sports Cup quarter-final this evening and boss Tommy Wright needs no reminder of the qualities possessed by the Tallaght outfit.
Wright was Rovers’ goalkeeping coach before taking up the hotseat at New Grosvenor last season and acknowledges his team face a tough task tonight against a side who boast a 100 per cent record after two games of their own domestic campaign.
“It is a ‘David and Goliath’ tie in terms of the stature of their club and where they are at the minute and where we are which is basically trying to totally rebuild the whole club,” said Wright.
“It will be a massive job, but the pressure will be off us, we can enjoy it and surprises can happen.
“They are the champions of their league, they have an unbelievable support and infrastructure. We can look on a bit envious at how their club is structured, but that’s a credit to the people there and Michael O’Neill.
“I know how hard he has worked since he went in there.
“The main thing for us is that we have to make sure that we have something to play for in Dublin and are still in the game.”
Glenn Ferguson looks doubtful after picking up an injury at the weekend otherwise Wright expects to bring Billy Brennan, Pat McShane and Andy Devlin back into his 18-man panel
“I’m looking forward to it,” added Wright.
“I really enjoyed our first Setanta Cup game against UCD and of course there is the added interest of Michael O’Neill and I being good friends.
“When I first went to Newcastle United in 1988, Michael was there along with Iam McFaul and Barry Hunter.
“Michael stayed with me in digs and we have been close friends ever since and, of course, we played together for Northern Ireland.”
The duo joined forces again when, following a brief stint as Norwich City’s goalkeeping coach, former Ballymena United boss Wright was summoned by O’Neill to Dublin.
“I went down to Rovers as full-time goalkeeping coach from February to September 2009 and stayed on part-time for a while after that.
“It’s something I enjoyed and it gave me an insight into the League of Ireland.”
Their friendship will go on hold for 90 minutes tonight, however and hostilities will resume at Tallaght Stadium for the second leg next Tuesday —by which time the Whites will hope to still be in with a shout of continuing their maiden voyage in the cross-border competition.