Annagh switch focus to Irish Cup with home test

Annagh United manager Dean Smith. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Annagh United manager Dean Smith. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Annagh United’s battle to protect second-tier status in Championship One will prove of secondary focus tonight (Tuesday) when the spotlight turns to the Irish Cup.

Knockbreda arrive at Tandragee Road holding a single-point advantage over Annagh in the league standings but with both clubs aware of potential for significant knockout progress in the domestic game’s premier competition.

The winners of this fifth-round clash can relish a road trip to another Championship One outfit, Lurgan Celtic, as the obstacle to the Irish Cup quarter-finals.

“League survival is very much the main focus for us in our first season of Championship One football,” said Annagh manager Dean Smith. “But the Irish Cup remains a great opportunity to gain experience and boost the profile of the club.

“Knockbreda will look at it the same way as we do, that a win would put you into the next round and another tie against a side from the same division leading into the quarter-finals.

“We have injury problems, with goalkeeper Marc Robinson set to miss a few weeks with Achilles and calf trouble, although Ciaran Fox can come back into the side.

“Bryan Pentland is out because of suspension and Jordan Campbell has an ankle problem.

“Richard Allen will return from his ban and we can also welcome back Steven Park into the squad after so long out with his hand injury.

“Steven returned to contact training last week and his return is a big boost for the club.”

Annagh returned to competitive play on Saturday after a six-week break between games due to the combination of a festive fixture list and adverse weather conditions.

“We lost 2-1 to Dergview in the Intermediate Cup but I was pleased with the performance overall,” said Smith. “After so long without football it was a good chance to get back playing and help build up the match sharpness.”

Kick-off tonight (Tuesday) against Knockbreda will be 7.45.