Ards boss Niall Currie accepts his team are favourites going into Monday night’s Steel and Sons Cup semi-final at Seaview, but refuses to underestimate the threat of opponents Immaculata.
The Championship 1 leaders have lost just once in all competitions this season, but Currie is wary of the highly-regarded Amateur League outfit who are in the last four on merit, having already sent The Welders and Knockbreda crashing out.
“There’s no doubt about it, we are favourites for the game,” admitted Currie. “We are sitting in Championship 1 and Immaculata are down in the Amateur League so, obviously, we are favourites and we accept that. But I think everybody knows it’s going to be tight.
“Having said that, I have total belief in my players. They have been fantastic all season. We have had one defeat and that was to Linfield at Windsor Park, so we go into the game very confident as Immaculata will. We will be going toe-to-toe with them to see if they can handle us, far more so than us seeing if we can handle them.
“We are one step away from the final and I think if the players want it as much as I do, then we will be okay. The squad is hungry and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a wonderful opportunity for a great day out. We are very determined that we are going to give it everything we have.”
Ards were in league action on Friday evening and banked another win with a 2-1 home success over The Welders, while Immaculata had a free weekend.
“We have only had a couple of days’ rest but we are not going to make any excuses; we’ll go there and give it everything we have. As long as our mindsets are right, we will be up for it as well,” he added.
“Immaculata come into the game with a big reputation and I think a lot of people are calling it as a close one, so it’s up to us to make sure we turn up and that’s what I’ll be focusing on.”
Awaiting the winners of Monday night’s match in the Christmas morning final are Spike Hill’s Glentoran II. With the scores locked at 2-2 after extra-time, they secured their spot in the festive showpiece with a penalty shoot-out win over Ballyclare Comrades on Friday.
“To be fair, it was probably our worst performance of the season and a lot of fans came to watch us because they have heard how we can play,” said Hill. “But that’s credit to Ballyclare because they stopped us playing. The object for us was to get through to the final because semi-finals are never pretty.”