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Ballymena United have minnows in View

Ballymena United face the minnows of the last eight in the Irn-Bru League Cup tonight, but Roy Walker will treat Dergview with the utmost respect.

The Tyrone side, who were only formed in 1980, are an unknown quantity to most people outside the Championship, but the Sky Blues have done their homework on their intermediate opposition.

“We've prepared for the Dergview game just as we would for any other game,” Walker said.

“We've had them watched a couple of times to find out what their strengths and weaknesses, and we will take cognisance of where we think we might get some joy against them. But we will go onto the pitch with the aim of imposing ourselves.”

It's 66 miles from Ballymena to Castlederg, which means a long trek to Darragh Park for Sky Blue fans, but the United boss isn't concerned about the travelling.

“It's an early start for us, we will be leaving in good time so we can stop off for a pre-match meal but it isn't a problem,” said Walker. “If we're being honest, this is Northern Ireland and there really aren't many long journeys like you have elsewhere.”

In recent years there has been an upturn in fortunes for clubs from the Fermanagh and Tyrone area, with Dergview finishing third in the Championship last season and Ballinamallard United currently topping the table.

Walker isn't surprised to see clubs from west of the Bann improving in standard.

“I know there is a desire to get grounds up to standard and try and get into the top division at many regional clubs,” he said.

“In the Championship there are a lot of good provincial teams, like Dergview and Ballinamallard.

“What you often find is these clubs have strong bond as they come from a tight-knit community. It's similar to the parish set-up in GAA. It makes for a tough game.”

Belfast Telegraph