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Ryan Harpur relishing Dungannon Swifts reunion as he returns to Stangmore with Annagh hoping for an Irish Cup upset

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Ryan Harpur (left) lifts the League Cup for Dungannon with Terry Fitzpatrick

Ryan Harpur (left) lifts the League Cup for Dungannon with Terry Fitzpatrick

©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

Ryan Harpur (left) lifts the League Cup for Dungannon with Terry Fitzpatrick

Annagh United midfielder Ryan Harpur admits he’ll feel a certain degree of nostalgia when he returns to Stangmore Park to face his former club Dungannon Swifts in round two of the Samuel Gelston’s Whiskey Irish Cup today — but sentiment will end at 3pm.

The 33-year-old, who joined the Championship club in the summer from Ballymena United, spent six happy seasons with the County Tyrone club and captained the side in their historic League Cup final win over the Sky Blues at Windsor Park in 2018.

But now he’s after the scalp of Dean Shiels’ much-improved team, whose recent impressive performances have inched them away from the Premiership’s relegation mire.

“It will be nice to go back to Dungannon,” said the former Everton trainee, who also had spells with Glenavon and Portadown. “I loved it at Dungannon. It was probably my most enjoyable time in football. I still have a lot of friends at the club and I’m looking forward to it, although we’ll be going there to win.

“Dean (Shiels) has turned the team around. They struggled early on, but have really got their act together and are now pushing for a mid-table spot.

“They have done incredibly well over the past month, losing only to Glenavon. I actually went to watch their game against Portadown. Dungannon have some really good young players.”

Harpur admits the cup tie is a welcome break from the rigours of picking up league points — Annagh still have aspirations of reeling in Newry City at the top of the Championship table.

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He added: “It’s a massive game for us, it gives us a break from league action. It’s always good to be drawn against Premiership opposition.

“We had been going quite well (in the league) until recently. We’ve had a lot of games, and the effects of Covid and injuries have taken their toll, but we are still there. If we were offered the position we are currently in, in terms of the league table, at the start of the year we would have taken it.”


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