Annagh United enter the Bob Radcliffe Cup final aiming to end a memorable year on and off the pitch with a welcome taste of silverware.
The story of 2014 for the Tandragee Road outfit tells a tale of an ever-improving squad, enhanced focus on youth development, completion of a highly-rated synthetic playing surface and consistent form.
Even the pain of the Mid-Ulster Cup final defeat against top-flight Dungannon Swifts has been shaped into a positive by Dean Smith and his coaching team.
“So much progress has been made on and off the pitch over the past year so a win in the cup final would really end 2014 in the perfect way,” said Smith. “It would be a brilliant reward for the hard work put in by so many, not just on the playing side but behind the scenes around the club.
“There is a real buzz about the place leading up to Friday and victory could really raise our profile to another level.
“A trophy would also obviously put down a real marker for this group of players and, after all, silverware is what you get judged on in the game.”
Smith can boast a proud record in the Bob Radcliffe Cup and will return to Lakeview Park with numerous images decorating the clubhouse commemorating his glory days with Loughgall.
“I was lucky enough to win some trophies in my career as a player, many with Brian Adair as a team-mate at Loughgall,” said Smith. “I have so much respect for Brian and we go back a long way.
“Results may not have gone according to plan but there is a lot of quality in that Loughgall squad and they sit a division above us, plus there is a gulf in terms of finance as well that ensures we go in as underdogs.
“We have injury concerns but any player selected will have the shirt with the full backing of everyone at the club.
“Team spirit is superb and the players go into the final looking to embrace the occasion.”
A supporters’ bus will depart from Annagh United today (Friday) at 10 o’clock and arrive back around 3 o’clock. Kick-off will be 11 o’clock.