Dunmurry Rec look to secure a Clarence Cup win over Ardglass
Dunmurry Rec’s joint manager Keith Halliday wants to make progress in the Clarence Cup a platform for further success in their bid to return to the Premier Division.
It has been two years since the Ashley Park outfit tumbled into the Amateur League’s second tier, and as far as Halliday is concerned - two years too long.
Since taking over with former fellow joint Ballymacash Rangers manager Jason Lowry in November 2014, Dunmurry have transformed from potential Division 1A relegation battlers to serious promotion pushers.
Halliday said: “Dunmurry may not be in the Premier Division at the moment, but I see this as a Premier Division club. I’m originally from Seymour Hill, so I’m a Dunmurry man, and I used to go and watch them with my dad.
“It has been strange to see them out of the top division. I think maybe they took their eye off the ball a bit, and unfortunately, once you start getting a few bad results, the slide can continue.
“It was a massive job for us - the team were struggling when we came in, and it was all about steadying the ship, which we did. Now I definitely think we can make top two this season.”
The managerial duo brought in a host of young, hungry talent to complement the experienced spine of the team, and it has been paying dividends.
Currently five points behind leaders Rathfriland Rangers, they are reasonably placed entering their final stretch of 11 games.
And key to their momentum in the league, Halliday believes winning the Clarence Cup can help give his men the belief they need to get themselves up among the best in the Amateur League.
That particular journey continues with a third round trip to Ardglass in the third round this Saturday. And Halliday admits it will be something of a journey into the unknown, but is very much relishing the challenge.
The Dunmurry boss stated: “I have heard some talk about teams pulling out of the Clarence Cup because of their fixture backlog, but that’s something I wouldn’t even consider.
“Of course you could be playing Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, but for me, that’s a good indication that we are doing well. I think you are as well playing as training, and the players would rather be playing too. Our fitness has been excellent and the players really got stuck into our pre-season… we even had a mini pre-season over Christmas!
“I know very little about Ardglass, I admit, but they are a Premier Division club and we will have to be at the top of our game to beat them.”
That said, Dunmurry should have nothing to fear. A victory over Immaculata in the Intermediate Cup - rightly described by Halliday as the club’s best result of the season, and a narrow 3-2 Steel & Sons Cup defeat against Crumlin Star have shown what they are capable of against top opposition.
If they can see the job through and make it into next season’s Premier Division, they’ll get to show that capability every weekend.