It's common to hear managers complain about the negative effect the ‘distraction’ of a cup run can have on their team’s league aspirations, but you will never find Queen’s University boss Peter Thompson uttering such concerns.
This Saturday, the students have been paired off with Lisburn Distillery in the sixth round of the Irish Cup, and their manager is eager to win the tie and secure a place in the quarter-final.
He also believes that they can harness the momentum gained to maintain their push for a top two spot in Belfast Telegraph Championship Two.
Thompson stated: “In my opinion these things have a positive effect on any team’s season. Getting to the sixth round of the Irish Cup is an achievement in itself for a club with our resources, but to make the quarter-final would be unbelievable.
“We set ourselves three goals at the start of the season – promotion, to win the Intermediate Cup, and to get as far as we can in the Irish Cup. So far we are going well with all of those.”
And Thompson believes his lads have a good chance of continuing their promising cup run.
He continued: “When the draw is made, you are looking for two things – either one of the top four or five teams, or a Championship club, to give you a shout of getting through.
“We are the underdogs, and it suits us. In saying that, Distillery are a club that belong in the Premier League, and of course it is going to be a tough match.
“I don’t think people realise what a big job Tommy Kincaid has done there. They lost a good part of their squad and he had to build them up from scratch.
“Managers like Tommy know what it takes at that level, and I can’t wait to pit my wits against him. Hopefully I’ll get talking to him afterwards.”
Queen’s head into this match in good shape, not only because of their league position, but also as they have been able to strengthen over the January transfer period. In that time, they have brought in Daniel Hanna (ex-Knockbreda), Bertie Fulton (ex-Coleraine and Larne) and Conor Mulholland (ex-Ballyclare Comrades).
It could be argued that as a club who only recruit students and ex-students of the university, Queen’s are extremely restricted, but Thompson is positive about where they are at this stage.
“I have been at this club since I was 18, and I can see the benefit of the rule, in terms of ethos and benefit to the club,” he said. “We don’t want to become a team who brings in loads of players and then gets rid of them.
“If we scrapped the rule, I think quite a lot of the players would leave, because they like it too, and I also know that if we were just recruiting anyone, the university wouldn’t fund us.
“Ideally, we would have current 11 students playing, but that isn’t feasible. That said, we are the healthiest we have ever been, with about half the team made up of current students.
“The other thing is that there are plenty of ex-Queens / St Mary’s / Stranmillis students playing at other clubs, people like Owain Beggs, Carl McComb and Scott Davidson, who we can approach in future.”
A win over Distillery, a quarter-final place in this year’s Irish Cup and promotion to next season’s Championship One would no doubt make selling the club that little bit easier.