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Crusaders can show the Scots that the Irish League should be respected, says Declan Caddell

By Gareth Hanna

Crusaders are determined to put the Irish League on the map by causing another upset in the Irn-Bru Scottish Challenge Cup.

That's according to Declan Caddell, speaking from the semi-final draw in Glasgow. After seeing off the current holders Dundee United on Saturday, the Crues face another trip accross the Irish Sea, this time to Inverness for the final four tie.

It might not be until February 17th or 18th but already Caddell is excited at the prospect of making another Scottish Championship club sit up and take notice of their Northern Irish counterparts.

"It gives us a great opportunity to showcase our club and the Irish League as a whole," he said.

"We'll take a lot of confidence from the Dundee United result. They didn't give us or the Irish League a lot of respect so it was great to go over there and get a result.

"It's nice that this competition takes places in the middle of our season rather than at the very start like the European competitions. We can go into this semi-final in top gear.

"There's a huge incentive for us to push on now and do something that no other Irish League team has done before by reaching a Scottish Challenge Cup final."

Saturday's victory added to earlier successes over Motherwell Under 20s and Cove Rangers but also marked a sweet moment for winning goal-scorer Gavin Whyte, who downed the team that had been interested in signing him back in January.

"The boys have been buzzing about the result since Saturday," said Caddell. "They were the holders and expected to go on but it was just great we got to showcase the league.

"It's good for the league and it's good for the players who have potential to go on and play elsewhere. Gavin (Whyte) will have done himself no harm, scoring the winner against a club who had previously been interested in signing him."

The Crues now have three months to work out just how to get to Inverness but for now, the more pressing matter is Wednesday evening's Bet McLean League Cup quarter-final at home to Linfield.

"They had a bit of a hoodoo over us last season but this season we've played them twice and won twice," said Caddell. "Matches against Linfield are always very tight and are the type of games that players want to be involved in."

Victory would mean the Crues have already reached three separate semi-final draws this season, added to the Scottish Challenge Cup and the County Antrim Shield.

And Caddell's hoping this could be the season the Seaview club claim their first cup success since they won the League Cup and the Setanta Cup six seasons ago.

"We've let ourselves down in cup competitions in recent years. We've got to semi-finals but not pushed on," he said.

"With the players that Stephen (Baxter - manager) has brought in, we're stronger than ever and hopefully we can show that we can push on in those cup competitions now."

Welsh side TNS host Dumbarton in the other Scottish Challenge Cup semi-final.

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