Robert Duddy says his Harryville Homers players are well prepared for the biggest week in the club’s 44-year history.
Homers will contest the two biggest finals in Northern Ireland junior football within a five day period over the next few days.
First up is the Toals County Antrim Junior Shield final against Ballyvea at Seaview this Wednesday night.
That is followed by Homers’ attempts to win the coveted Irish Junior Cup for the third year in succession, when they take on Rosemount Rec in a repeat of last year’s final, on May Day Monday.
“If someone had said to me at the start of the season that we would be in the final of both competitions, I would have told them ‘catch yourself on’,” Duddy told Times Sport.
“We know from the experience of the past two years how tough it is to get to the Junior Cup final, while trying to win our own league, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to play out when we added the Junior Shield into the equation this year.
“But once again the boys have risen to the challenge to be in both finals and that in itself is a huge, huge achievement.
“We have been fairly lucky in terms of injuries that we have pretty much a full squad to choose from and all the boys are looking forward to both games,” added Robert.
The first of those games is the Junior Shield final on Wednesday night, with opponents Ballyvea currently sitting fourth in the Premier Division of the Newcastle & District League.
“It’s always dangerous to try how good a team is based on their league position because teams often have league matches still to play because of their cup or Shield run.
“We have experienced that in the past and Ballyvea have played less games than a lot of the other teams in their league.
“I watched their semi-final against Newington and it was a close game that either side could have won.”
Homers are in the final in their first year back in the Shield, following a three-year ban from the competition after the infamous ‘final that never was’ in 2012 when both Homers and final opponents Carniny Rangers were removed from the tournament after it emerged that both teams had fielded players who were ineligible.
Duddy, who took charge following that incident, said: “I think that still rankled with a lot of people because it was more a case of being ignorant of the rules of the competition at that time.
“It certainly formed part of the boys’ motivation wanting to give the Shield a really good go this year and they have managed to keep their focus on the Shield as well as all the other competitions,” added Duddy.
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