MID-ULSTER SHIELD FINAL THE AMBASSADORS v ARMAGH ROVERS
THE Ambassadors’ rise up the Mid-Ulster Football League ladder may seem impressive to the casual observer but those within the club maintain a deep desire for added silverware.
Following the club’s formation in 2006, the season-by-season records chart divisional promotions and memorable cup runs.
However, the return of a single piece of silverware - the Division Four crown - remains an internal source of frustration and scratch they hope to itch on Easter Tuesday in Armagh.
Holm Park will provide the setting for the Mid-Ulster Shield showpiece against Armagh Rovers and The Ambassadors go into the final determined to shake off the ‘nearly men’ tag.
“We have made a lot of progress in terms of moving from Division Four up the tables,” said Alan Cooke, manager of The Ambassadors. “We were promoted from divisions three and two as runners-up, plus lost out in the finals of two cups.
“In the past, we have fallen short at the final hurdle so hope it will be a different story next week.
“In any match all you can ask of the players is total commitment and, if they leave the field having put in 120 per cent and the result still goes against us, I can have no complaints.
“We just want to put everything into the final and see what happens on the day.
“The Easter game should attract a decent crowd and we will certainly treat the occasion in a professional manner in terms of preparations leading up to the match and on the morning.
“Armagh Rovers knocked us out of the Marshall Cup last month and we know to expect a tough match, however, I have faith in my players as they have bonded together extremely well this season.
“We have had a loyal group of players from the club’s formation but I introduced a few fresh faces last summer and everyone started to gel from day one.
“It is a credit to the players but we work a lot on trust at this club and I have confidence in asking the lads to play a certain style of football.
“I am a firm believer that, if they enjoy the game, it will lead to the best results and pulling on a shirt for the club should serve as a release from the daily pressures we all face.
“It is about creating a release but also taking something seriously to work together as a ream for a common goal.”
The Ambassadors’ path to the final featured defeats of Tons Place, Craigavon City, Ballybot United, Newry Celtic and Bessbrook United.
“In the semi-final against Bessbrook I basically emphasised to the lads how it was about the need for every member of the 14 to produce when called upon,” said Cooke. “That proved to be the case and it is all about applying the talent.
“Dermot Kelly is getting married on the day of the final but everyone else is available for selection so that is a bonus.
“We took a few precautions on Saturday against Riverdale and lost out by 4-0 in the Alexandra Cup but, more importantly, did not pick up any injuries.
“We know we will need to be at our best for the final but everyone is looking forward to the day.”
Kick-off at Holm Park will be 11 o’clock.
Dates and venues have been set as follows for other finals under the Mid-Ulster Football League umbrella: Wilmor Johnston Memorial Cup (Armagh City, April 13); Alan Wilson Cup (Banbridge Town, April 20); Beckett Cup (Oxford United, May 4); Alexandra Cup (Dollingstown, May 11); Foster Cup (Annagh United, April 26); Mid-Ulster League Cup (Seagoe, May 17); Marshall Cup (Loughgall, April 27); O’Hara Cup (Tandragee Rovers, May 18).