Lurgan are determined to enjoy their first appearance in an Irish Senior Cup semi final when they take on Pembroke Wanderers on Saturday but they won’t be travelling to Dublin to merely make up the numbers.
The Co Armagh side have avoided holders Railway Union and UCD - the two strongest sides left in the competition - but they would dearly love to be playing one of them in Sunday’s showpiece.
Pembroke still have an outside chance of a place in next season’s Irish Hockey League, as do Lurgan, but they are not regarded as one of the top sides in their province.
But Lurgan are only too aware that one of the Dublin side’s rivals, Glenanne, who are similarly regarded, dismissed mighty Pegasus from the competition.
“We are just hoping that nerves won’t be a factor but we have plenty of players who have experienced cup finals at school level so hopefully that will stand to them.” said Lurgan manager Darwin Murray
“We know next to nothing about Pembroke bar their results but because the standard in Leinster is higher than it is in Ulster you can’t read too much into that.
“But we will concentrate on getting our own house in order and we are just hoping we can put in a big performance because we will certainly need one.
“We had a tough game against Pegasus last Saturday and that was ideal preparation for the Pembroke game which we expect to be equally difficult.
“If we can play as well as we did in the first half of that game then we are in with a chance but it is going to take a complete 70 minute performance if we are to have a chance.”
In the other semi final as former Pegasus player Alex Speers will be lining out for Railway against ex-Ballymoney striker Katie Mullan who plays for UCD who clinched the Leinster title last Sunday.
While most of the attention is focussed on the Irish Cup weekend there is also plenty at stake for other local sides closer to home.
Premier League champions Pegasus can move to within two points of leaders Ards with a win over Harlequins on Saturday.
Lisnagarvey and Ballymoney have a rematch at Comber Road after Wednesday night’s game at the Joey Dunlop Centre finished 4-1 in favour of the home side. ‘Garvey are in desperate need of at least a point in their bid to avoid a relegation play off while there is also plenty at stake for ‘Money who can still qualify for the IHL.
On Friday night at the Antrim Forum, Queen’s will be looking for at least a draw as they bid for a top five finish which would secure an IHL play off or an automtaic place depending on the new and still to be confirmed format.
Their opponents Randalstown, boosted by last week’s draw with Ards, need a positive result as they attempt to do the same, although in theory, they aren’t safe from finishing in the relegation play off place.
Meanwhile, Ards begin their European Indoor Championship bid on Friday in Budapest when they take on Lisbon Casuals (10am BST) followed by an encounter with host side Amator Gyeplabda (2.40pm).