Loughgall boss Dean Smith delighted Annagh United have been able to return to playing at BMG Arena after severe flooding
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Following record rainfall, Annagh’s youth clubhouse was destroyed and their artificial pitch, which hosts over 300 youth players on a weekly basis while also providing a base for many other clubs and organisations, was deemed to be all but ruined.
The Championship outfit have managed to find a temporary solution to enable a return to playing on the Tandragee Road and they’ll welcome Loughgall this evening in a BetMcLean League Cup last-16 clash with the winner set to take on neighbouring Portadown next month.
Smith lives a stone’s throw from the BMG Arena and his parents house, located across the road, was seriously impacted by the flooding, so he knows first-hand how much work has gone into getting the pitch playable with Annagh beating Knockbreda 2-0 at home on Saturday.
"It's super to see after the amount of work that has went in,” he said. “My parents house is across the road and it was affected by the flooding also.
"I think Ciaran (McGurgan, Annagh manager) had said during the week that it wasn't just Annagh United it affects but so many young players that come to use the facility - Rangers use it on a Sunday, St Mary's use it as their Mid-Ulster home ground, so it wasn't just a football club it was affecting but a real community.
"The work they've done over the last few weeks has been fantastic and it's great to see them back playing there."
Loughgall are coming off two consecutive Premiership defeats, including Saturday’s 2-0 loss against Glenavon at Mourneview Park.
Nevertheless, it has been a remarkable return to top-flight action for the Villagers, who sit seventh after 17 matches while scoring more goals (27) than all of their bottom-six rivals and Coleraine.
With games coming thick and fast, Smith admits there will be some squad rotation tonight as they look to battle on all fronts with a Mid-Ulster Cup final berth up for place next week when they host Portadown alongside looking to maintain league momentum.
"We look forward to it,” he added. “We will welcome Jay Boyd back into the fold.
"We will have a rotation because the league is our bread and butter, but no matter what team we pick it'll be one that we think can go and win the game."