Belfast Telegraph

Dollingstown and Portstewart keen to prove their Irish League credentials


By Gareth Hanna

They've won five trophies between them this season, but after all their hard work, only one of Dollingstown and Portstewart will end the season in true party style.

Mid-Ulster champions Dollingstown meet NI Intermediate League winners Portstewart in the promotion play-off first leg at Planters Park today (kick-off 3pm) before the second leg on the north coast next week with a with a place in the Intermediate Premier at stake..

Treble-winning Portstewart have lost only four games all season, while Dollingstown won both the Mid-Ulster Football League's Intermediate A crown and the Bob Radcliffe Cup.

Portstewart boss Gary Taylor said: "Winning three trophies was the icing on the cake but now we want the cherry on top as well.

"To be honest, these are the main two matches for us. Our aim at the start of the season was to get back into the Irish League and that hasn't changed."

For footballers in the fourth tier of the Northern Irish pyramid, seasons don't normally last quite this long. And that has brought its own issues, as Dollingstown manager Stephen Uprichard points out.

He explained: "Nobody envisaged the season going on this long and the guys have lives to live. They've made plans with families and girlfriends, and whatever way the play-off goes we'll be back in at the end of June or start of July so they only really get a month off. It's a big commitment.

"The guys have been really, really good all season. Now it's a case of performing in these two games and finishing it off. I've done my homework on them and I'm sure they've done the same on us."

Portstewart's Ryan Doherty showed his skill in his side's Irish Cup fifth round defeat at Glenavon earlier in the season, and the former Coleraine winger will again be a key cog if his side are to be the ones popping the corks next Saturday afternoon.

For Dollingstown, ex-Lurgan Celtic forward Ritchie Thompson and former Annagh United man Scott McCordick provide their danger in attack, while captain Aaron Moffett shores up the back line.

Belfast Telegraph

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