Belfast Telegraph

Fearless PSNI relishing chance to upset Crusaders, says Kirk

By David Mason

Bullish PSNI boss Jamesie Kirk has warned 'don't write us off' ahead of tonight's County Antrim Shield semi-final showdown with Crusaders at Seaview.

The Championship side are massive underdogs against the kingpins of Irish League football. On paper it shouldn't be a contest, but Kirk is a big fan of cup upsets - and believes his boys are capable of claiming a little piece of history.

"It will be a special occasion for the PSNI no matter what happens, but it would be a dream to reach our first senior final," he said.

"I know this tournament is not a priority with some, but it's one we are totally serious about.

"I'm aware that Stephen (Baxter) has dabbled with his team in previous matches, preferring to use some of his Under-20 squad.

"He has a squad of 20-odd players and he is entitled to utilise that group, so we know whatever team he puts out, we'll be in for a difficult game.

"But it's not a case of us turning up and being lambs to the slaughter - we'll be going to Seaview to give a good account of ourselves.

"It's a nice distraction from league business. This is our first year classed as a senior side. We have been performing well in the Championship - we've been beaten only once at home this season and that was in our first match against Knockbreda.

"Our aim is to remain in the top six before the league splits in February."

Former Ballyclare Comrades chief Kirk has a fair sprinkling of experience to complement the youth in his armoury, with ex-Donegal Celtic striker Lukasz Adamczyk the danger up front.

Ryan Berry is a former Glentoran midfielder who was once tipped for the top, while Stuart Hutchinson, Paul McDowell and Mark McCullagh also add to the side.

"We also have young Johnny Courtney, who was with Ballinamallard last season, but he is out at the minute with a foot injury. He is a great talent. We only got him because he is studying at Queen's University. I wish we had him for this game," said Kirk.

Although his boys are used to playing on the lush turf at Newforge, Kirk has no problems with Crusaders' synthetic surface.

"If anything it will suit our style," he added.

"We'll certainly respect Crusaders, but we'll be going there with no fear, make no mistake about that."

  • Co Antrim Shield Semi-Final: Seaview, Tonight, 7.45pm

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