IRISH CUP: Dollingstown will dare to dream at Dungannon Swifts

Dollingstown captain Aaron Moffett and team-mates celebrate the opening goal in a fifth-round victory over Richhill AFC.
Dollingstown captain Aaron Moffett and team-mates celebrate the opening goal in a fifth-round victory over Richhill AFC.
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Dollingstown will step out at Stangmore Park having made history with a first appearance on the Irish Cup’s sixth-round stage.

The Mid-Ulster Football League club travel to tackle top-flight Dungannon Swifts with the stakes stacked against another landmark result.

However, the romance of the cup will prove central to the hearts and minds of everyone connected to Dollingstown.

Encouraging signs arrive from an unbeaten record that dates back to early November, impressive run of successive wins over that timeframe and attacking options with a track record of free-flowing and free-scoring football.

Reality may well bite this weekend as the final whistle signals the final curtain on Dollingstown’s Irish Cup run to remember - but manager Stephen Uprichard remains pragmatic.

“The mood is great around the club and everyone is determined to make the most of the occasion,” said Uprichard. “We will, of course, look forward to the day and it is going to be a wonderful learning opportunity for the players.

“We have got to be realistic about our chances but it is still just a game of football and anything can happen.

“I have so much respect for Dungannon and rate this squad the best since they reached the Irish Cup final.

“We will prepare and go into the tie aiming to represent the club in the best way possible as to even be in this round is something remarkable.

“We have to accept that Dungannon will probably have 80 per cent or more of the ball but we want to be as competitive as possible.

“There is such desire within this club and commitment so I want us to do those attributes justice.

“This is such a great group of lads and a brilliant club, so the goal is to produce a performance to show that on the day then leave with long-term benefits, as individuals and a club.”

Dungannon Swifts’ season suffered a double setback with injury to two key players in centre-back Chris Hegarty and the Danske Bank Premiership’s leading scorer, Andrew Mitchell.

“Chris should be back within the next fortnight and Andrew is looking at maybe four weeks out, so neither injury would seem as bad as our first fears,” said Swifts boss Rodney McAree. “In terms of the cup match, we have spent a few seasons now putting together this squad and Saturday will open up chances to other players.

“We now have real strength-in-depth but Saturday will be about attitude against a club I respect for such impressive progress.”