Countdown is on to a festive final showdown for Rathfriland Rangers

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Countdown is on to a festive final showdown for Rathfriland Rangers thumbnailHoping for a White Christmas - Rathfriland Rangers will take on Downpatrick in next week’s Border Cup final.

RATHFRILAND Rangers "know what they've got to do" to bring the Border Regiment Cup back to the hill, manager Paul Kirk has said.

The Whites take on fellow NAFL Premier Division title contenders Downpatrick in the showpiece decider in Belfast next Tuesday, 27 December.

And with a colossal crowd expected to descend from the hill for the trip to Seaview, the Rangers will not be short of support on the day.

Kirk said he wants his men to deliver for their loyal band of supporters.

“We want Rathfriland to be buoyant on 27th night and guarantee a good Christmas for the supporters and the players," he said.

“The people from this town are looking forward to a big day out and what we've got to do now is deliver the goods.

“Hopefully we can perform to the level we know we can and then we could take that cup back down the road with us."

The Whites last reached the final of the Border Cup in 2012, and lost by a single goal to Crumlin Star.

Downpatrick will undoubtedly be tough opponents, as Kirk acknowledges, and he has been doing his research.

“They've got experience in their team and they'll have a commitment and a passion to want to win," he said.

“They were beaten in last year's final and they'll see this as a chance to avenge that, so we've just got to be on our best game - it's as simple as that."

The bad news for the Whites is that they go into the cup final off the back of a bad 4-2 defeat away to Drumaness Mills in their last game before the big day.

Kirk, however, insisted that will not affect his players.

“That was lacklustre and it was poor, but we'll get a reaction to that in the final," he said.

“We were restricted a bit on Saturday with Darren McGrath and Peter McCann unavailable."

But on a positive note, McCann looks like he will be fighting fit for the final.

“We're hoping that Peter's going to come through - he's getting very close now," the boss said.

“In terms of his fitness, that'll not be a problem - he looks after himself, so that won't be an issue to me.

“It'll be important to have him on the pitch - he's a leader, a clever player."

And Kirk is calling on each of his players to stand up and be counted, insisting that the team "can't afford to have any passengers".

“We've got to have everybody going flat out for 90 minutes, to concentrate to the highest level of ability you have - that's all we're asking for.

“If we're bringing a big support, we've got to not let the people of Rathfriland down."

And he says his men will be sensible with the Christmas celebrations, and keep themselves in top condition.

“They know what's at stake, they know what they've got to do for the town."

Equally, he wants the supporters to be that 12th man to help see his side secure the silverware, and had a message for the travelling fans.

“Get behind the boys that are out on the pitch and the ones that come on off the bench to either change or help us see it out.

“It's difficult picking a team because you're going to have disappointments and players left out who feel they should be starting.

“But we've got to support all the boys on the field through thick and thin, and we'll be relying on our fans to be the 12th man for us.

“It's all about winning and we'll take a result whatever way it comes."


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