Weekend break a chance to recharge

Dean Smith.  Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Dean Smith. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Annagh United manager Dean Smith is hoping a step away from the season can allow his players to push forward tomorrow (Saturday) against Knockbreda.

A blank programme last weekend provided the opportunity to regroup and return to training refreshed and recharged.

“We have mixed up training, with a visit to the pool alongside some good physical sessions and match preparations,” said Smith. “Sometimes it can help to just take a break from everything and now everyone can approach the next few days with total focus.

“We have Knockbreda at home in the league on Saturday then welcome Annagh United next Tuesday across the Bob Radcliffe Cup semi-final.

“After that break, we can now look forward to a few big days.

“Our results have been frustrating over the past number of weeks but I am sure Knockbreda’s league form is not what they would have wanted either at the start of the season.

“We both go into the match in similar form and our focus, of course, will be on three points.”

Annagh then welcome Loughgall in a midweek semi-final that hands the holders a test against last season’s runners-up.

“This season our situation is a bit different as, having gained promotion to Championship One we must focus on the league over cups,” said Smith. “In the past, cup ties handed us a chance to raise the profile of the club, gain experience against sides in higher divisions or get a boost from a scalp.

“We still obviously respect the competition and want to get into what is always a great final on Boxing Day.

“However, we must also accept this season calls for a different approach and we must focus on getting those league points on the board first and foremost.

“I have a full squad available for Saturday, with Mark Stewart back from suspension and others returning from injury.

“The cup tie will allow me to give the lads extra minutes for fitness or experience.

“We still want to win it, of course but the derby will always take care of itself and the priority must be Saturday’s game with Knockbreda.

“We have had a good start to the league then suffered a dip so must get back to the bread-and-butter of league points.”

Kick-off tomorrow (Saturday) will be 3 o’clock and 7.45 on Tuesday.