Irish Cup: Johnny Hastings daring to dream of Larne Tech OB in semi-finals at expense of Warrenpoint Town
Larne Tech OB hit the road to face Warrenpoint Town - with manager Johnny Hastings aiming to utilise the standard matchday routine in pursuit of a stand-out reward.
“We are allowed to dream of reaching the Irish Cup semi-finals but go into it without any pressure as Warrenpoint are expected to win,” said Hastings of his Amateur League-based underdogs. “Saturday is going to be about promoting the club and giving those people who volunteer so much time a day out to remember.
“The guys down marking out the pitch early in the morning or the long-serving fans who have been following the club for years all over the place.
“We expect around 250 fans to make the trip, so it’s exciting and one everyone around the club can relish.
“We’ve been professional and methodical in our preparations and had Warrenpoint watched.
“Other than those scouting missions, it’s basically keeping everything as regular as possible.
“For every Irish Cup tie we go to Chekkers Wine Bar for breakfast so will do the same on Saturday.
“The preparation will be in place but we want the players relaxed and approaching the match in as natural a frame of mind as we can.
“Everyone is enjoying the increased spotlight and we have been able to stay relaxed leading up to the game.
“But on matchday and over training it’s business as usual and finding that balance between enjoying the situation and not getting too caught up in the occasion.”
Warrenpoint Town enjoy higher standing in the Irish League structure but prepare for the Larne Tech OB visit feeling low following a string of defeats, suspensions and injuries.
“We’ve lost four in a row now in the league alongside players missing because of red cards and injuries, so it’s a tough test made even more difficult,” said Warrenpoint boss Stephen McDonnell. “However, this is an opportunity for the players selected to go out and show something.
“We may sit in the Premiership but are still punching above our weight in so many areas.
“Not too many in our dressing room have experience of playing in big cup ties and as much as we understand the focus is on Larne Tech OB, this is also the club’s first time ever in the Irish Cup quarter-finals.
“So there can be no better incentive, with the reward of an Irish Cup semi-final at stake.
“To get to this point is a special achievement for our club but now the players have to keep our season alive by getting a win.
“Despite our recent setbacks, we can go into such a big game with a clean slate and fresh focus towards achieving that one big result this weekend.”