Dollingstown manager Gary Duke is looking forward to the opportunity to prove his side have what it takes to join the ranks of the Championship, as they prepare to take on Armagh City in the Bob Radcliffe Cup final this Thursday (Lakeview Park, Loughgall 11am).
The Mid Ulster Intermediate A team have broken the regular trend of all-Championship finals by reaching the blue ribband game for the first time in their history.
And Duke, so accustomed to carrying the weight of expectation on his shoulders going into finals, is enjoying the novelty of being the outsiders on this occasion.
“It will be a novelty for us, not going in as favourites for a change,” he said.
“The draw has been kind to us, and we haven’t played played any Championship teams this year, but it’s hard to say whether that was a big factor in us getting into the final.
“If everything goes according to plan, we will be playing Armagh in the Championship next season, so this is the ideal chance to see what standard we are at.”
If Dollingstown are to achieve their dream of reaching the Championship, they’ll first need to win their league title, and at present that goal appears to be on course with a maximum 24 points from their first eight games.
Armagh boss Marty Rice is only too aware of this outstanding form and will ensure there is no danger of his players taking the opposition lightly.
“I don’t think there is such a thing as favourites when you get to a cup final.
“In any case, we know how good a side Dollingstown are... they are a Championship club in all but name and will be using this game to prove that.
“For us, it is all about our young team getting big game experience, and they don’t come much more prestigious than this one."