At first glance, it might be tempting to consider Dunmurry Rec’s Clarence Cup semi-final task against Immaculata a daunting one - yet the Division 1A side do, at least, have some reason for optimism.
For while Immaculata have been impressing with a long unbeaten league run that has propelled them to the top of the Premier Division, Dunmurry have one abiding memory that can provide them with a glimmer of hope against their Grosvenor Road counterparts.
The two teams crossed paths in the Intermediate Cup first round, and a fearless Dunmurry came away with a 5-2 victory that few would ever have predicted. And while it may be said that lightning doesn’t strike twice, Dunmurry joint managers Jason Lowry and Keith Halliday certainly won’t be turning up to Seaview (tonight, Monday, 7.30pm) with white flags.
Lowry stated: “They are definitely the form team, and we are the underdogs, but that suits us. We know they are beatable, because we have already beaten them, but that can work as a motivator for them as well as an advantage for us.
“The other thing for us is that promotion is realistically over for us now. We have five league games left now, but the Clarence Cup can keep things competitive.
“If they can’t get themselves up for this, they won’t be able to get up for anything.”
Like any ambitious managers with hopes of progression, Halliday and Lowry set themselves a high standard and expect their team to follow suit.
Quietly, they would have been targeting promotion this season, but that is a lofty target for a team that they managed to rescue from relegation after coming in midway through the last campaign.
Indeed, starting the season with five straight victories would have propelled those high hopes, and up until very recently
“The last two league games put the final nail in the coffin for us, as far as promotion goes,” conceded Lowry. “The Orangefield game, if we had scored first, we would have won. Then the (3-2) defeat to Killyleagh was a bit of a disaster for us.
“If we had won those two games, we would still have been right in it. But that just gives us all the more incentive to try and win the Clarence Cup. It gives us something to build on.”
There’s a well-worn adage that in order to be the best, you have to beat the best. And on this occasion, it just so happens that Dunmurry find themselves up against one of the very best around.
Dunmurry could be forgiven for hoping that Immaculata would have their sights solely set on capturing their first ever Premier Division title, but the lure of emulating Drumaness Mills’ 2013/14 double means this match will be no less a priority to the Mac than any of their remaining league encounters.
So what will it take to beat Immaculata a second time? Dunmurry are clearly one of a very select number of teams who have held the key to that question this season, but repeating the trick would be one of the outstanding achievements in the Amateur League this year.
Lowry added: “Immaculata are the form team of the moment, and it’s fair to say that our form hasn’t been what we would like it to be going into this game. But you never know what will happen.
“One thing I do know is that we won’t be sitting back. Attack is the best form of defence.”
It is a mindset that has served Immaculata well down the years, and one which they will no doubt continue to adopt in tonight’s semi-final. And with both teams likely to take such an attacking approach, we are set up nicely for what should be an entertaining showdown.