Sports

Richhill eye spot in last sixteen

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Richhill eye spot in last sixteen thumbnailDollingstown’s Marty Hughes and Nathan McConnell and Richhill’s Neil McCartney and Ryan Harper with the Irish Cup trophy last Tuesday afternoon.

IT wasn't the dream draw that everyone involved with Richhill AFC had dreamt about, but make no doubt about it, Richhill AFC's chances or progressing to the last 16 of the Irish Cup are a very real and genuine prospect.

Last Tuesday's draw at the National Stadium at Windsor Park saw Neil Rowntree's side handed home advantage against fellow Mid-Ulster Intermediate outfit Dollingstown in the last 32 of Northern Ireland's most prestigious knockout club competition.

Indeed there were only five possible opponents that could have been handed a trip to the Richhill Recreational Centre and as a result there is guaranteed to be a representative from the Mid-Ulster Intermediate League in the last 16 of the competition.

Speaking just minutes after the draw at the National Stadium, manager Neil Rowntree admitted that it wasn't the draw they had hoped for, but said that he had to keep pinching himself to remind him how far the club have progressed this season.

“We know that we have to take care of Dollingstown and we won't be getting too ahead of ourselves.

“Obviously it is a massive chance for either side to get into the last 16 and get a massive team in the next round.

“Make no doubt about it Dollingstown will come in as favourites on the day.

“They are sitting joint top of the Intermediate A league and that is where Richhill AFC want to get to."

Rowntree was adamant that his side go into the game with everything to play for and nothing to lose.

“This is the first time that fifth round football will be played at the Richhill Rec and we know that we have a very good chance of progressing.

“We will go in as underdogs, but we will go into the game with the attitude that we have a chance of doing it, they will go in as favourites, but we don't fear them!"

Dollingstown defeated Sport and Leisure Swifts in the fourth round and Rowntree admitted that they will do their homework on the Planters Park outfit.

“Scouting will be a bit easier for us with Dollingstown being just round the corner in Lurgan.

“They have just been taken over by Stephen Uprichard and knowing Scobie he will have them very well drilled.

“Stephen and I know each other well and I actually played under him when he was in charge at Armagh City!"

Richhill's last Irish Cup tie had been hailed as the most important game in the club's short history and Rowntree added that the village will be buzzing with Irish Cup fever ahead of the fifth round tie on January 7.

“The excitement is already building and coming up here to the draw was a fantastic day out for everyone involved.

“Since we defeated Grove United there has been a great buzz around the village.

“Yes we probably came here in the hope of getting one of the big boys or a big local tie against Portadown or Glenavon, but at the end of the day it is great to be here and you take who you get at this stage."

As the rounds have progressed Richhill AFC have noticed more and more bodies lining the touchline at the Richhill Rec and Rowntree concluded by saying that everyone is eagerly awaiting Saturday, January 7.

“We had over 150 people there against Grove United and I'd imagine there will be an even bigger crowd down at the Dollingstown game.

“The support the players and the backroom staff and myself have had from supporters, the committee and everyone else has been brilliant.

“There will be a great buzz around the village in the build up to it and we are all looking forward to it."

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