Colin Nixon’s glittering playing career with Glentoran included a taste of Irish Cup glory on no fewer than six occasions.
The Ards manager may draw on those past memories as motivation for his current squad but also appreciates the desire for a senior scalp Loughgall can utilise at Lakeview Park.
“The Irish Cup final is the greatest day and I was fortunate across my career,” said Nixon. “But, with Ards, most weeks we go into league games as the underdogs so I am aware of how Loughgall will view the tie and the importance of preparing in the right way despite going in as the senior side.
“We went there in pre-season so know what to expect from the ground and have obviously done our homework on how Loughgall play.”
Loughgall’s league campaign of consistent inconsistency provided one major reward this week of securing a top-six post-split Championship slot.
“We do not want to rest on our laurels,” said Smith. “The aim is to carry that confidence into a cup tie which will offer a tough test but without any of the pressure the players have had to perform under in recent weeks.
“Financially there are benefits and Loughgall can boast some proud results in previous Irish Cup ties.
“It is going to be our third big game in eight days but everyone is looking forward to the match.”