Hill in confident mood ahead of Portstewart tie

Ballyclare's Kyle Agnew in a mid-air battle with Larne's Aaron Black during last weekend's Irish Cup tie.
Ballyclare's Kyle Agnew in a mid-air battle with Larne's Aaron Black during last weekend's Irish Cup tie.

Ballyclare Comrades are back in action again this weekend when they travel to Portstewart for an Intermediate Cup tie.

The Reds should have no fears about travelling north, having won on both previous visits.

Manager Eddie Hill is confident his lads will have too much for the Championship 2 side to cope with.

“Even though we will probably be dubbed favourites, we will make the same preparations as if we were going to Windsor Park,” he emphasised.

“I expect that we will have an almost full squad to select from, but we will have to check on Gerard McAlea who limped out of the Larne game with a tight hamstring, while Andrew Doyle played through that match with a broken bone in his hand.

“Simon McGowan, Daniel Smith, Adam McCart and Conor Mulholland should all come back into the reckoning, after being ruled out against Larne.

“We have been less than impressive on the road this season, but I am quietly confident we will be able to negotiate this trip to Portstewart and book our place in the next round.”

Comrades have a fine record in this competition having won it several times, but it hasn’t adorned the trophy cabinet in the Bob Girvan Boardroom since 1990, when they got the better of Dundela in the final.

Reflecting on the Irish Cup win over Larne, Hill said: “We were in control throughout except for 10 minutes just after the interval, when they came out fired up, but the result was never in doubt.

“Stuart McClean and Gary Bell do a fantastic job in training and we must be one of the fittest teams in the league. Week after week we finish games stronger than the opposition, and they have the lads believing in themselves.

“When Larne equalised we responded immediately and regained the lead within a few minutes, and from that point Larne never looked like getting anything from the game.

“I was absolutely delighted when Mark Wilkinson scored his first goal of the season. He and Chris Trussell are beginning to link up well together up top. So having broken his duck, I hope that he pushes on from there with a few more goals in the second half of the season.”