Alex McCosh knows better than most about the intense football rivalry that exists between Harryville Homers and Carniny Rangers.
The Homers goalkeeper is one of very few players to have played for both of the great Ballymena Saturday Morning League rivals.
And although he has been between the posts in cup finals and league deciders involving the sides, McCosh admits that Monday’s Junior Cup semi-final clash will be on another level entirely.
“It’s a massive match for both clubs - especially with a place in the Junior Cup final at stake,” says McCosh, one of the most decorated players in the recent history of the Saturday Morning League.
He added a BSML title and his first Junior Cup medal to his personal collection last season in his first season with Homers after ending his long association with Carniny.
“I had initially joined Carniny for a couple of games while their goalkeeper Mark Smith was injured - I ended up staying for 16 years!” laughs Alex.
McCosh was a lynchpin of the Carniny side which dominated the BSML after the turn of the new millennium and he admits he has seen a major change in the attitude of local clubs towards competitions like the Junior Cup.
“There was a time when Saturday Morning League club treated the Junior Cup as a day out but I really noticed a difference in about my last five years at Carniny when we had a really good side which reached quarter-finals and semi-finals.
“But Homers have taken that on to an even higher level in recent seasons and now clubs from other leagues are very aware of just how good the Saturday Morning League is, which is testament to the work done by the league’s officials as well as the teams.
“We also have the experience and know-how to handle games at this stage of the Junior Cup which can be really important.
“I know a lot of people said it would have made a great final but I don’t mind the fact that the two teams were drawn together in the semis - I just hope the game itself matches up to the occasion.
“I have an awful lot of respect for everyone at Carniny and especially ‘Dob’ (manager Robert Young) - it was him that got me started in the Saturday Morning League and it was him that gave me the desire to win that I still have to this day.
“There are so many good players at Carniny like Frazer Young, Alan Norton and Ryan Bamber who deserve to play in a Junior Cup final but I will be doing my utmost to ensure it won’t be this year!” added McCosh.