Experienced defender Stuart Harper is relishing acid test at Oval

Queen's defender Stuart Harper
Queen's defender Stuart Harper

Experienced defender Stuart Harper admits Queen’s University’s mesmerising Irish Cup run is the “biggest thing to happen to the club”.

The Championship 2 minnows are preparing for a massive semi-final showdown with Ballymena United on Saturday.

The ‘David vs Goliath’ clash at the Oval is the latest acid test for Queen’s in this season’s competition.

So far they have seen off Lurgan Celtic, Limavady United, Lisburn Distillery and Bangor.

Ballymena will be their first taste of Premiership opposition, but Harper insists Queen’s are relishing the big occasion.

“It is the biggest thing to happen to the club. I was a student at Queen’s and played for five years. And I have been here as a graduate for another eight or nine years on top of that,” Harper said.

“When I started playing we were in the Intermediate League, and then we advanced to Championship 2.

“We struggled for the first few years, and we were down around the bottom for long periods. It is a very competitive league.

“But we have slowly built up the team and attracted better players. We always try to play attractive football – that has been the ethos for a number of years.”

The 31-year-old defender added: “We have done our homework and know Ballymena’s quality. We are under no illusions.

“We have a massive test ahead of us, but we are looking forward to it.”