Town Look To Make History

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

FIVEMILETOWN United are getting set for the biggest match in the club's 118 year history this weekend.

The men from the Valley Stadium face off with Championship side Loughgall this Saturday in the fifth round of the Irish Cup.

It is the first time the side managed by Scott Robinson has ever reached this stage.

And being involved in this clash is indicative of the great strides made at the club in the past six months under their new manager.

Scott Robinson, the former Ballinamallard Reserves boss, immediately appointed Andy Carlton as his number two and Micky Curry as first team coach.

Pre-season saw over a dozen new additions to the squad, and things have started to click into place, as Scott Robinson explains: "Everyone bought into what Andy, Micky and I were trying to do. We said from the start we wanted to make things more professional.

"The club, players, fans, management and everyone behind the scenes deserve all the plaudits they are receiving. The players have worked so hard, and they deserve this.

"They're not here by accident. It's a nice break from league action, and we'll enjoy it."

A second round 4-1 win over Sirocco Works at the Valley Stadium gave the club a third round tie at home to Newington.

Indeed the Newington game was to prove a memorable one.

They were 4-2 down with 15 minutes to go but roared back to win 5-4, with many of the club's players citing Paul Baron's 94th minute winner as the highlight of the cup run to date.

“I've been involved in an Irish Cup Final whilst at Dungannon Swifts", said Baron. "The whole day was amazing. You feel like a professional for a day.

"Obviously, the farther you get, the better, and for some of our lads, the Loughgall game could be the biggest game they'll ever play. My one piece of advice to every member of our squad, is, enjoy it".

That amazing comeback versus Newington brought Fivemiletown United to Dundela for their fourth round tie.

A sizeable support followed the Tyrone men to the 'Hen Run' and four first half goals had the fans delirious.

“For me, the Dundela game was the highlight," said vice-captain, Davy Little.

“There has been a buzz about the club right from the start of the season, and the cup run has taken us to a new level in terms of confidence.

"The support has been second to none and has pushed us over the line several times."

Loughgall, having started the season poorly, are now on a good run under new boss Dean Smyth.

Last Friday's 3-0 home win over H&W Welders was their fifth in six games, and they will fancy their chances.

Indeed, Fivemiletown have two former Loughgall men in their ranks.

“To make it to round six would be unbelievable," said former Loughgall man Glen Clarke, while Paul Baron is the other who used to ply his trade on the Ballygasey Road.

They're not the only men with experience at a higher level, with Jason Gillespie and Barry Anderson having done so too.

Chairman Davy McQuigg has praised his staff this season.

“The appointment of Scott and his backroom team in the summer has proven to be a fruitful one," Davy told the Courier.

"We approach the biggest game in the club's history, and it'll be a massive task, but I am certain the management will leave no stone unturned in their preparation."

The Dundela result was followed by a morning at Windsor Park for the fifth round draw.

“To be sitting at Windsor Park, and waiting to see the name 'Fivemiletown United' get drawn from the hat, was surreal," said club Captain, Simon Johnston. "We've had a good season so far, but the cup run has definitely been the highlight. The morale at this club is special, and the fans have been brilliant also.

"There's a sense that we can achieve something this season, and I'm proud to be a part of it."

Christmas was cut short, with a friendly versus a Monaghan Select side on 28 December which saw the Valley men record a 2-0 win.

“It was a good run out, and good to blow out the cobwebs", said Andy Carlton.

“The lads worked hard, because there are places up for grabs against Loughgall, and everyone wants to be in that starting line-up."

In Mid Ulster Intermediate A, Fivemiletown find themselves third with two games in hand on leaders Moneyslane, and have the best defence in the division.

The cup run has been different, however. The 4-1 win over Sirocco Works was followed by a 5-4 win at home to Newington and a 4-3 win at Dundela, which has seen the Valley men concede eight but score 13.

As well as historic, this season's run has been exciting.

“The lads have certainly put us through the mill," said Micky Curry. "Last minute winners are brilliant but not good for the ticker. We're here on merit. We'll enjoy it."

Scott's final words on the game were quite simple. "We've a great squad. They work so hard. We're the fittest team in our league. We're unbeaten in our division, and we're all hungry. We've done our homework. We'll go there with no fear."

2016 was the year of the shock. Trump. Brexit. Leicester City. Can Fivemiletown continue the trend into 2017? Only time will tell.


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