Border Cup final: Foundry and Kilmore Rec eager for glory at Seaview
The managers of both Albert Foundry and Kilmore Rec will be eager to get their respective hands on their first piece of silverware in charge of their clubs – but neither will bask in individual glory if they secure it in this Friday’s Border Cup final (Seaview, 2pm).
Both Colin McIlwaine and Mark Holland are club men to the core, ready to let their players take all the plaudits when things are going well, yet shouldering the lion’s share of responsibility when the chips are down.
For Holland, this is only the first season in his journey into management, but in the case of Foundry boss McIlwaine, he has already seen his side come so close to clinching some of the top prizes in his three years as manager, but has yet to clinch a trophy.
The Paisley Park gaffer admitted: “We have already had a third and two seconds in the league, but this is our first final.
“It hasn’t been the best season for us so far, so we are all going to make sure and enjoy the occasion. This is our big chance to win something.
“But let’s get one thing straight, this isn’t about me – it’s about the club, and I’m very lucky to be in the position of managing such a quality, hardworking team. Hopefully we can bring the silverware home.”
Foundry did show a lot of early-season promise, and were at one stage competing on four fronts – but they were ejected from the Steel & Sons Cup at the quarter-final stage and from the third round of the Irish Cup, over the fielding of a player signed after the latter competition’s August 31 transfer deadline.
And while the ruling unquestionably had an effect on the team earlier in the season, McIlwaine insists his club are now fully focussed on the challenges ahead, as they mount a push for Border Cup, Clarence Cup and Premier Division honours.
“We are known for being a team who do better in the second half of the season, but we’ve never been as far behind as we are now,” stated the Foundry boss.
“In saying that, I don’t think any team is going to run away with it this year.”
Traditionally, a mid-season cup win has been shown to boost league form in the second half of the campaign, but McIlwaine isn’t so sure.
He added: “I thought the same when we won our semi-final, but then we went and lost the next two league matches. So we will just take each match as it comes.”
Kilmore player manager Mark Holland shares his counterpart’s sentiments, and insists that while he would love to cap his first season with a trophy, there is no burden of expectation resting on his shoulders.
Looking ahead to the final, he said: “I just like to things a game at a time. The most important game is always the next one.
“But there is no pressure on this game at all. This is my first year in management, and the boys have done well to get here.”
If they are to complete the job this week, they will have to do it with the on-pitch assistance of their manager. Holland has spent the last two months on the sidelines following a hernia operation, and is targeting a return early in the New Year.
Missing out on the final will be a tough experience for the former Cliftonville man, but he, like McIlwaine puts team concerns ahead of any personal ones.
He said: “It has been a bit strange, giving out instructions from the sidelines, and not actually being involved. It has shown me that I’m not ready to hang up my boots just yet, and while I’m not getting any younger at 35, I’ll know when that time comes.
“Of course it’s hard not getting to play in a big final, but it’ll be even harder to take for the two or three players I will have to leave out.
“The great thing for me is that a lot of our players have been missing this season, and we still have got to this point. Just think what we could do when we have them all back and playing together.”
These two teams have yet to meet in the league this season, and this game is likely to prove a good indicator to how things will pan out between them as the Amateur League Premier Division moves into its second half. Expect a tight, entertaining encounter.
Belfast Telegraph Digital