It’s a case of university challenge this weekend as the Steel and Sons Cup returns with UUJ set to lock horns with Queen’s University.
Remarkably, Darrach Teague’s Jordanstown are the only East Antrim-based Amateur League outfit left in the competition, but he’s expecting it to be far from academic as he prepares to take his side to The Dub.
Queen’s were the first team he faced as UUJ boss in a pre-season match which ended in a comfortable win for the Belfast men.
Since then UUJ have got stronger. A lot stronger. Their opening four league games in Division 1A have yielded two wins, a draw and a defeat. A penalty shootout success over neighbours Rathfern Rangers in the Border Cup, followed by a comfortable Steel Cup win against Bryansburn Rangers has also boosted belief in the squad.
And while, on paper, they may not be favourites, Teague says they will definitely be out to give Championship 2 Queen’s a run for their money.
“I know a few of the boys at Queen’s well,” he said. “I know the manager, Peter Thompson, and I guy who work with, Stevie McDowell plays up front for them. So, there’s a wee bit of spice.
“When we played them in pre-season the game was already arranged before I took over.
“It was pretty tight for an hour maybe, but then they hammered us. I think the score ended up 5-0!
“Queen’s are certainly favourites for it, there’s no doubt about it but I’m hoping it will be a tight enough affair. If we have our strongest line-up on the park, I’m sure we will give them a good game. Jordanstown against Queen’s is always a fiesty affair and it’s one I’ll be looking forward to.”
Teague, who has worked as a coach at youth level for Danske Bank Premiership champions Cliftonville, took over the reins at UUJ during the summer following the departure of Fra Miskelly. A UEFA ‘A’ License holder, he has travelled far and wide to expand his coaching knowledge, visiting professional clubs including Blackburn Rovers, Hull City and Spanish sides, Villareal and Levante.