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Strule and Beragh lock horns in cup semi

Beragh manager Keith Hamilton

BERAGH manager Keith Hamilton is hoping the pain of losing the 2014 Mulhern Cup Final will drive his players to ultimate success in the Fermanagh and Western FA’s premier cup competition.

At Drumad Swifts were just seconds away from winning the prestigious silverware for the first time in the club’s history when Enniskillen Town midfielder Frank Hanna swooped with a last-gasp equaliser.

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Hanna twisted the knife by netting an extra-time winner and Swifts were left reflecting on the most painful defeat imaginable.

For Hamilton and the likes of Collie Adams, Micheal Brown, Stephen Browne, Kyle McKane and others who played in Beragh’s only ever final appearance, that loss remains fresh in the memory.

It’s a ghost of the recent past that Swifts are determined to exorcise by going the distance in 2017.

So far Beragh have done it the hard way by seeing off the challenges of Dunbreen Rovers, Enniskillen Rangers and Irvinestown Wanderers as the Fountain Lane outfit set their sights on another showpiece final appearance.

Hamilton though refuses to look beyond tomorrow evening’s semi-final showdown with Strule United at Ferney Park, Ballinamallard.

“Strule might be bottom of the league but they’re still a first division team, it’s a local derby and for sure it’s going to be tough,” he said.

“That’s the message I’ll be drilling into my players, league positions mean nothing.

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“On paper we are slight favourites but beyond that we are focused on the fact that this is going to be a tough cup-tie.

“It’s an age old cliche but form really does go out the window..”

Strule’s preparations for Wednesday’s showdown with Beragh has been far from ideal.

The weekend before last last season’s Division Two champions were defeated 2-1 by NFC Kesh in a relegation six-pointer and Tuesday evening’s crunch derby against Strathroy Harps was postponed after the pitches at Donnelly’s Holm had been vandalised.

Following Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Magheraveely, Strule now need to win all three of their remaining games to avoid an instant return to Division Two.

Yet in the cup competitions Niall McAleer’s unpredictable charges have thrived. In the Irish Junior Cup the Omagh side enjoyed an encouraging run before being ousted by finalists Hill Street and have been equally impressive in the Mulhern.

On their run to the last four, Strule have accounted for Mountfield 3-1, Drumquin United 4-0 and Division Three champions Fintona Swifts 3-0.

United will go into the eagerly-anticipated tie as underdogs given Swifts won both league encounters, albeit by the odd goal.

Strule boss McAleer said he was expecting a thoroughly competitive cup-tie.

“Beragh won 1-0 and 2-1 but honestly there was nothing in it,” continued McAleer.

“It’s going to be highly competitive and the boys will be up for it.

“There’s plenty of excitement in the camp and we know we can put it up to them.

“Our biggest downfall all season has been a lack of concentration. It seems that other teams have punished every single mistake.

“On Wednesday night we have to cut out the errors, be solid at the back for 90 minutes, or more, if necessary

“Do that and we have a realistic chance.”

 

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