Desi Campbell is realistic enough to know that his Drumaness Mills side will have little room for error if they want to mount any sort of a defence of their Amateur League Premier Division title, but ambitious enough to believe it is still possible.
Even though they are sitting in the bottom four of the table with just nine points from eight games – around half the number played by several of their rivals, and 20 points off top position – he is desperate to continue the one cup run they have left outside of the league.
This Saturday, Drumaness play host to Belfast Telegraph Championship One side Dundela, with Campbell insistent that his side need a victory to kick-start their stuttering campaign.
He said: “Everyone knows that the league is the most important thing, but this game is a really big one for us. It’s not just that we want to win it… we need to win it.
“If we could beat Dundela it would be a springboard for our season, but I know they will see it the same way.”
Certainly, no-one would have predicted that either of these two clubs would be in the lowly respective positions that they currently occupy. Dundela, although ‘on paper’ the favourites for this tie, carry the unwanted tag of their division’s bottom club, and may soon be facing up to the unfamiliar reality of a relegation battle in the months ahead.
With weather conditions as they are, and circumstances surrounding the teams demanding a sharp turnaround, surely both would take a scrappy 1-0 just to progress to the fifth round and provide a much-needed confidence boost all round?
“You need a distraction from the league, even though we have a lot of games to play – which isn’t a good thing,” reflected Campbell. “It is going to be tough. Crumlin Star and Kilmore showed last season how tough it can be when you are having to play three games a week, which we will have soon.
“But we have to take each game as it comes, and with a few of our boys coming back from injury, I still feel we can put in a challenge. There are a lot of games to be played, and a lot of points will be dropped at the top of the table too.
“Of course I have been looking at Dundela’s results, and you can see it hasn’t been happening for them, but they are still a Championship One side, and we will have to make sure we concentrate on ourselves.”
Drumaness have already fallen flat in their bid to hold onto one part of their memorable league / Clarence Cup double of the previous campaign, losing 4-2 to Division 1A’s Abbey Villa in the knockout competition at the start of this month.
Perhaps that will make Campbell even more determined that his players do themselves justice in the Intermediate Cup – a competition with so many teams, so many rounds, and such a high standard of club taking part that many amateur managers deem it a waste of time. Not Campbell, however.
He stated: “I would never call it a waste of time. Everyone should be doing the best they can, and Ards Rangers showed a couple of years ago just how far Amateur League teams can go when they made it to the final… and I would say they are a better team now than they were then.
“Obviously if you do progress, it gives everybody at the club a real lift, too. My intention has always been to bring Drumaness to the highest possible level, and by doing well in a competition like the Intermediate Cup, I think we are doing that.”