Beans and toast the order of the day for Thompson ahead of cup clash

Queen's boss Peter Thompson and captain James Lavery with Ballymena defender Johnny Taylor and manager Glenn Ferguson
Queen's boss Peter Thompson and captain James Lavery with Ballymena defender Johnny Taylor and manager Glenn Ferguson

Queen’s University boss Peter Thompson insists there will be no extra fanfare or bluster surrounding his side’s preparation for Saturday’s massive Irish Cup clash with Ballymena United.

A pre-match meal of beans on toast with scrambled eggs will be the order of the day prior to setting off to the Oval.

Queen’s are ranked 7/1 outsiders to cause an Irish Cup shock against the Sky Blues in east Belfast.

It is a genuine ‘David vs Goliath’ semi-final showdown in east Belfast, but one that Thompson is targeting victory in.

And he admits their preparation won’t change ahead of the titanic test.

“From the sixth round onwards, I put in place that we go to the Students’ Union for a pre-match meal. This is where you see the gulf in resources between us and the other semi-finalists,” Thompson said.

“We have our pre-match meal of very basic baked beans on toast with scrambled egg, fruit and juice. And we do all our tactics at the Union.

“The players relax while me, Noel Corrigan and David Tomelty leave to lay out the kit and water and drinks etc. We do that for each game. But I like that because it keeps perspective.

“We know our limits at this club, and this game will be a very proud day, especially for our chairman Denis Clarke who has been here for 48 years. It is very proud for Denis, and everyone else associated with the club.

“Some of the fans are coming out of the woodwork, but we know the die-hard fans who have been there through thick and thin.

“We have come a long way, and I intend telling the players that it doesn’t stop here.”

Thompson insists his underdogs won’t be over-estimating Ballymena when the sides meet.

“We are the minnows. We are the ‘fairytale’,” he added.

“Yes, the pressure is on Ballymena, but I know they have had us watched in every game since we beat Bangor.

“I wouldn’t have expected anything less.

“I will be putting pressure on my players. What is the point turning up if there are no demands placed on Queen’s? What’s the point?

“We will have done our homework on Ballymena, and we will set the players up tactically to win the game. Every time they put on the Queen’s short, they are expected to win.

“The media and everyone else will be expecting a routine Ballymena win, but behind closed doors we are going out to cause an upset.

“This is an Irish Cup semi-final, we will go for it.

“We treat every team with the utmost respect, because if you don’t then you will be on a hiding to nothing.

“It is testament to Glenn (Ferguson) that his scouts have watched us in every game since the draw was made.

“You listen to some of the press in Ballymena, or people walking up to in the street, and they do say we are the huge underdogs, and that all the pressure is on Ballymena.

“Ballymena have been doing their homework on us, so they are not underestimating us. By the same token, we are not over-estimating them.

“We have to go in with a winning mentality. We won’t go to the Oval as a team that will try and cling onto something. You have got to go for it, especially in a cup semi-final.”