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Semi-final spot would match biggest achievements in Warrenpoint's history, says hero of previous Cup tie with Larne Tech

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Club ties: Raime Woods (left) with his late dad Raymond Snr

Club ties: Raime Woods (left) with his late dad Raymond Snr

Club ties: Raime Woods (left) with his late dad Raymond Snr

For Amateur League outfit Larne Tech Old Boys, tomorrow's Irish Cup quarter-final at Warrenpoint Town is the biggest match in the club's history.

For the home side, though, it's huge too.

Just ask Warrenpoint's Safety Officer Raime Woods who scored the winning goal for Town over two decades ago when they faced Larne Tech in the competition.

Warrenpoint are now a top tier side in Northern Ireland football. Back then they were an Intermediate club and their 2-1 victory was considered a shock.

"It was back in 1997 at Milltown and we were in Intermediate A at the time. I think they were in a higher league because it was viewed as a big surprise us winning that cup tie," recalls Woods, one of the many dedicated volunteers working around the Irish League.

"I was 17 and playing at left-back.

"In the first 10 minutes I gave our goalkeeper Tony Collins a dodgy back pass and their player ran in and scored so we were 1-0 down.

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"Five minutes into the second half we scored direct from a corner kick and then I scored the winner late on.

"We had a corner and I was on the edge of the box and the ball came to me. I hit it on the half volley and it went in. It was a great feeling.

"It was pure joy and made 100 times better because my dad was sitting behind the goal watching.

"My dad Raymond Snr, who passed away last year, was one of the founders of Warrenpoint and that day meant a lot to him."

Woods, a larger than life character around the club, says that if Town reach the semi-finals it will match them gaining top flight status.

He adds that manager Stephen McDonnell may have had a difficult start this season but has proved his worth.

"As a coach and manager Stephen is unreal. He lives the game," says Woods.

"At the start of the season we were losing games and conceding lots of goals but Stephen kept insisting that he would play his way.

"I remember having a conversation with him early in the season and he told me that he believed in his brand of football and would not be changing it, and here we are in an Irish Cup quarter-final and we have a Mid-Ulster Cup final coming up, so he was spot on.

"If we win on Saturday and reach the semi-finals of the Irish Cup it would be hard to put into words what that would mean to our club.

"The best moments in our history came against Donegal Celtic when we got promoted to the Irish Premiership and beating Cliftonville away in the Irish Cup as an Intermediate club, and to get to the semi-finals of the cup would be up there with those occasions.

"I think it would mean just as much as winning promotion to the top flight.

"We are a small club, but we are homely, family club with people who care about Warrenpoint Town.

"It would be amazing for us to reach the semi-finals."


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