Home not so sweet for Mark's men
Dundela manager Mark Snodden has a lot to be pleased about at the moment.
On holiday this week to take in Northern Ireland's crunch game with Spain today, back home his side have enjoyed an excellent start to the season, which sees them currently second in the Carnegie First Division, in the final of the Steel and Sons Cup, and with an opportunity to progress in the Irish Cup this weekend, with a home tie against Malachians.
" I'm very pleased with the way things have gone thus far," Snodden told Local Heroes. "Unfortunately, Bangor beat us in the semi-final of the Carnegie League Cup but, aside from that, things have been very positive. We have begun well on all fronts."
What is interesting is that both the two league defeats the club have suffered (to Tobermore and Coagh), have occurred at home. It is a statistic that has caused Snodden some concern.
"It's just disappointing," he said. "Our home form let us down last year, and that has carried over into this season as well. The last couple of results at home have been better for us, however, as we drew 2-2 with Ards, and we got a win over Harland and Wolff Welders."
Another issue of concern so far is the form of Loughgall, who have won all their first six games in the league, and are clear of Dundela by eight points.
"It does concern me that, so far, no-one has taken points from them. Although we've yet to play them, they are going to be hard to catch. They are a strong, physical outfit and, coming down from the Premier League having kept much of the same squad, they will be difficult to take points from."
On a more positive note, the club and its supporters are already looking forward to Christmas Day's Steel and Sons Cup Final, against Ballyclare Comrades. Snodden is a veteran of five finals as a player, and is delighted to be reach his first as manager.
"It's a great reward for the players, and the fans, " he said. "This club has a great history in the competition, and it is an opportunity for players to play in front of a big crowd."
As for this weekend, the Irish Cup is another opportunity for the club to shine in a knock-out competition, but also a chance for the club to host a big team in the later rounds. The fact is not lost on the manager.
" Malachians will be a difficult game, but we'll be well prepared, and we'll treat them with respect. Obviously, from a financial perspective, the competition can also be important in terms of bringing in a big gate from the later rounds.
"Certainly, you want to get Linfield or Glentoran, if you can reach that point. But, despite that, I must say that my priorities this season are with the league, and the Steel and Sons Cup."