Armagh City and Warrenpoint Town will tackle tonight’s Mid-Ulster Cup final in Dungannon with contrasting track records but a shared desire for landmark glory in the competition.
City enter the final having lost the two previous showdowns to Dungannon Swifts - with Warrenpoint out to make a first mark in the Mid-Ulster Football Association’s knockout showpiece.
Both managers have personal motivation behind pursuit of the silverware, alongside the bonus benefits provided to any squad bolstered by a trophy lift.
Rice’s CV is short of a Mid-Ulster Cup final winner’s medal after two disappointments. He has also led City to two Bob Radcliffe Cup triumphs and an Intermediate Cup runners-up spot in seven seasons as Holm Park boss.
Matthew Tipton can boast just mere months as Warrenpoint manager but will gain confidence from his side’s position as Championship leaders and cup wins under his leadership against top-flight Glenavon and Ballinamallard United.
“The Mid-Ulster Cup is a competition we came into this season looking on as a target and will certainly be going into the match confident despite the league positions,” said Rice, with City sitting second from bottom in the same division as Warrenpoint. “We have a draw and win against Warrenpoint so far this season from the league.
“We entered this season with a squad I felt was as good as anything outside the Premiership and even of the five players who have left in the January window, only two were probably really regulars this campaign.
“Consistency has been an issue due to players unavailable for injury and other reasons but, in a one-off game, I have faith in this squad to produce.”
Tipton’s third game in sole charge of Warrenpoint came with a Mid-Ulster Cup semi-final success over Glenavon and knockout ties continue to help accelerate his learning process in the hot seat.
“We have made a few changes to our set-up over the past few months since previous games with Armagh,” said Tipton. “It is certainly a big occasion for the club, with this squad having the chance to become the first-ever winners of the Mid-Ulster Cup for Warrenpoint.
“The early Mid-Ulster Cup ties gave me a chance as coach to learn more about the squad in competitive games then the Glenavon result obviously really helped give everyone a lift.
“Football can provide limited chances to win trophies or even play in a cup final so we will be going in motivated to grab that opportunity.
“It is a first final for me as manager, a first chance for this squad to win silverware together and a taste of the kind of high-level occasion we want to be part of in the future on a regular basis.”
Kick-off will be 7.45 at Stangmore Park.