John Gregg is preparing his Institute team for their ‘biggest and toughest challenge of the season’ as they fight for their Carling Premiership lives.
And defeat for the Drumahoe side could spell a long way back to senior football.
Donegal Celtic will be trying to send Stute down into intermediate football when they teams go head-to-head in their promotion/relegation play-off, with the first-leg at Celtic Park this evening before Friday’s return tie at the Riverside.
DC beat Institute four years ago to bring senior football to their west Belfast home for the first time, but they were never relegated, only being put down when failing to make the top-12 on points when applications had to be made to form a new Premiership, with the number of teams cut from the previous 16.
“We’ve gone to Belfast this season and drawn with Glentoran, drawn with Linfield and beat Crusaders, but this is probably our hardest game of the season,” said Gregg.
“Donegal Celtic will be fighting tooth and nail to get into the Premiership and we have to be prepared for the physical battle.
“This is a second chance for us, because in other circumstances finishing bottom would have sent us down automatically, but there is no third chance.
“But we have to win this tie and we have to do it ourselves, nobody is going to help us do it.”
The situation that Gregg finds himself in is no surprise to him, given the cuts he had to make in January.
“We lost players, we had to ask others to take wage cuts and we were preparing to be in a play-off,” he said.
“I hoped it wouldn’t happen, but we’re here now and we have to get ourselves out of it by winning.”
Tonight’s game at Celtic Park has a 7.45pm kick-off.