‘We are in it to win it’ insists Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter

Glentoran director Aubry Ralph with Shamrock Rovers manager Trevor Croly at the draw

Glentoran director Aubry Ralph with Shamrock Rovers manager Trevor Croly at the draw

  • by Gareth Fullerton

Stephen Baxter insists Crusaders are “in it to win it” after being paired with Sligo Rovers in the quarter-finals of the Setanta Sports Cup.

The Crues will face the FAI Cup holders over two legs next February and March.

Doubt was cast over the Seaview club’s participation in the all-Ireland tournament following Linfield and Cliftonville’s withdrawals earlier this week.

The two Belfast clubs cited the timing of the Setanta as one of the reasons behind them pulling the plug.

Both the Blues and Reds could be in the throes of a tense title battle when the Setanta Cup kicks-off.

Crusaders – who currently sit top of the Danske Bank Premiership – will also be hoping to be in the mix in two months’ time.

But despite having two more fixtures - at least – to accommodate into an already busy schedule, Baxter doesn’t mind the extra burden being placed on his squad.

And having won the Setanta back in 2012 with a penalty shootout victory over Derry City, the Crues boss is determined to repeat the feat.

“We value the Setanta Cup very highly. Winning it back in 2012 was probably the highlight of my career,” he said.

“We have great memories of the competition, and we are committed to it for the foreseeable future.

“Linfield and Cliftonville have decided to withdraw, and that is entirely their decisions.

“We are more than delighted to be involved and we respect the tournament very much.”

Crusaders defeated Sligo in the semi-finals en route to claiming the Setanta Cup in 2012.

Reflecting on his side’s draw, Baxter is under no illusions.

“Sligo are one of the best teams in the Airtricity League. We know their quality and they will be a stern test – but it is a great game for us,” he added.

“We will have to wait and see how things are going come February time. The games are not next week, they are quite a bit away.

“So we will reassess things when the two legs come around. Of course, we will take into account how our league performances are going and where we are in the table.

“But we will be professional and we will be going out to win the Setanta. Make no mistake about that.”

Also in Wednesday’s draw – held at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin – newcomers Ballinamallard United were drawn against reigning Airtricity League champions St Patrick’s Athletic.

Mallards boss Whitey Anderson said: “We are delighted to be involved in the Setanta, and St Pat’s will be a massive test.

“But it is great for the club and fans to see quality teams coming to Ferney Park.

“And it is a great challenge for the players. You want to play against the best, so this will be a good learning curve.”

Meanwhile, Glentoran have been pitted against 2011 Setanta winners Shamrock Rovers.

Coleraine – who Rovers defeated in the competition last season – have been drawn against Dundalk.

The first legs will be played on Monday, February 24 and the second legs will take place on Monday, March 10

Setanta Sports will announce later which of the quarter-final first legs they intend to broadcast.

p Sky Sports will be covering the Danske Bank Premiership clash between Crusaders and Dungannon Swifts at Seaview on Monday, January 6.




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