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Crumlin Star seeking another cup upset as they take on Annagh Utd

Crumlin Star, pictured before their recent win over Ballynahinch Olympic at The Cricky, will be aiming for another cup upset when they take on Premier Intermediate outfit Annagh United in the quarter-final of the Intermediate Cup on Saturday afternoon Crumlin Star, pictured before their recent win over Ballynahinch Olympic at The Cricky, will be aiming for another cup upset when they take on Premier Intermediate outfit Annagh United in the quarter-final of the Intermediate Cup on Saturday afternoon
Crumlin Star V Ballynahinch Olympic at Cliftonville Playing fields pic: Crumlin Star Sat 2302JHC19 Crumlin Star V Ballynahinch Olympic at Cliftonville Playing fields pic: Crumlin Star Sat 2302JHC19
By Paddy Tierney

Intermediate Cup quarter-final
Annagh United v Crumlin Star (Saturday, 1.30pm, Tandragee Road)

CRUMLIN Star are well used to causing shocks in cup competitions at this stage and they’ll seek to upset the odds once more when they take on Annagh United on Saturday afternoon in Portadown.

Annagh remain firmly in contention for promotion from the Premier Intermediate League and sit just one point behind league leaders Tobermore United having played one game extra.

Yet, recent results suggest that the North Belfast men have reason to be optimistic ahead of Saturday’s meeting.

Star reached the last 16 of the Irish Cup thanks to a stunning 4-1 defeat of Loughgall in the fifth round and manager, Paul Trainor insists his side are bullish ahead of this weekend’s Intermediate Cup quarter-final.

“We’ll relish the challenge. These are the types of games the players love to play in,” said Trainor.

“We are trying to test ourselves against opposition from higher leagues and it is great to do that. As much as it is going to be a big challenge for us, we fear nobody.

“That’s not to sound big-headed or cocky. Our team will go out and give 100 per cent every Saturday. Nine times out of 10, it usually takes us over the line against teams around our own level.

“This is a big challenge, but we are going down with a lot of confidence.”

He added: “Annagh are in the league above us and they are flying this year. Up until recently, they were top of the league, but Tobermore and Queen’s have overtaken them. They’ve had a blip over the last few weeks, but they got back on track with wins over Queen’s and Lurgan Celtic.

“They have a lot of experienced Irish league players in their squad with the likes of Michael Gault, Niall Henderson and John Convery.

“We’ve watched them on a few occasions and we’ll have a plan to play against them.”

While Annagh will have ambitions of plying their trade in Championship 1 next season, Crumlin Star remain on course to retain their NAFL Premier Division title.

Immaculata have built up an eight point lead at the head of affairs, but over the course of recent weeks, Crumlin Star have slowly but surely chipped away at their lead.

With seven games in hand over the West Belfast outfit, the Star will be hopeful of retaining their title.

“The majority of our fixtures have to be confirmed and it will all depend on how we fare in the Intermediate Cup on Saturday,” said Trainor.

“It is good to get runs in the cup and getting to finals and winning cups and that, but the bread and butter is the league.

“We are better off this year than we were last year when East Belfast went 23 points ahead of us.

“This year, we are eight points off ‘The Mac’ (Immaculata) with seven games in hand. East Belfast have dropped seven points and we have game in hand over them. At the minute, we only have one week of playing Tuesday, Thursday and a Saturday so it isn’t as bad as last year.

“There is a bit of room for error and I’ve said to the boys that we’ll just keep ticking the matches off as we go along.”

The Star manager is sweating on the fitness of Kevin Trainor (hamstring) ahead of Saturday’s clash with Annagh, while Paul Prigent is set to return to the heart of the defence having served a suspension during last Saturday’s 8-1 thumping of Drumaness Mills in the league.

Trainor’s men will travel to Portadown cast in the role of underdogs, but the same was true the last time they visited Co Armagh.

January’s stunning defeat of Championship 1 outfit Loughgall in the Irish Cup should lessen the chances of Annagh underestimating their opponents.

Even still, Crumlin Star have enough quality of their disposal to pose a serious threat to Annagh and another upset can’t be ruled out.

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