Irish Cup is ‘everything’ for Slane

New Moneyslane captain Mark Ervine (right) will lead his side into battle against Magherafelt Sky Blues on Saturday while Banbridge Rangers host Derriaghy CC.
New Moneyslane captain Mark Ervine (right) will lead his side into battle against Magherafelt Sky Blues on Saturday while Banbridge Rangers host Derriaghy CC.

Moneyslane are already dreaming of their first foray into the fifth round of the Irish Cup.

For now, it’s a mere pipe-dream but they can take one step closer to making it reality this weekend.

They’re one of six local sides making their bow in round one the competition on Saturday afternoon when they host Magherafelt Sky Blues (kick-off 1.30pm).

“I’ve reached the third and fourth rounds before and for teams outside the Irish League, it’s everything,” said Slane’s new manager Dan Thornton.

“To get through a few rounds and get a big draw and the chance to play at Windsor Park or Seaview is a fantastic achievement.

“The league will be our priority but we have a good squad of 21 players and we know we’re good enough to go far in the Irish Cup.

“The boys in our squad have plenty of experience and they’ve been there and done it in this competition.”

If, before the season began, you had offered Thornton the start he has had to his Moneyslane career, you might well have lost an arm.

His side are sitting top of the Mid-Ulster Intermediate A table after derby victories over Seapatrick (4-0) and Banbridge Rangers (3-1).

“The wins were comfortable enough,” said Thornton. “We expected a tougher game against Banbridge Rangers but actually Seapatrick gave us the better game. To be fair, we were very, very good in both games.

“Going forward, we will frighten any team in this division this season.

“We had a good pre-season, which helped us. We drew 1-1 with Linfield Swifts and with Ballyclare Comrades’ first team. We beat Crusaders Reserves 2-1 so it was all positive and we carried that into our first two league games.

“We will keep our feet firmly on the ground though. The two teams who came up will be favourites to go down but we’re taking heart from teams that have come up before us.

“We’re improving with every game and we’re pushing the lads hard in training. We have a couple of boys coming back from injury but when we get everybody back, our squad will be as good as anybody in that league.”

Slane were beaten in their first cup game of the season on Saturday, ousted from the Premier Cup by Fivemiletown United 2-1. Thornton, though, was happy with his side’s display with several squad players included in a changed starting line-up.

The whole Slane panel will be doing everything they can this weekend to ensure their Irish Cup run lasts longer than that one.

Their cup opponents lost their opening Ballymena and Provincial league Premier Division game of the season on Friday as former Championship Two side Coagh United edged a tight game 1-0.

Meanwhile, Dromara Village have been handed a bye through the first round of the Irish Cup.

Other local intermediate teams were not so fortunate. Seapatrick face a trip to Bloomfield while Banbridge Rangers host Derriaghy CC. Rathfriland Rangers welcome Moyola Park and Dromore Amateurs visit Queen’s University. All games kick-off at 1.30pm.