Sports

Fivemiletown United enjoying the journey

Thursday, 5 January 2017

SCOTT Robinson and his Fivemiletown United team will venture once again into uncharted territory as their Irish Cup odyssey continues with a fifth round tie at Championship One side Loughgall on Saturday.
The club has been on an unprecedented journey in this season's competition, having defeated Dundela FC 4-3 in the last round to make it into the final 32 draw. Previously, the club had never progressed past the third round of the Irish Cup.
And the Valley men managed to avoid the big Premiership names such as Linfield, Crusaders and Cliftonville, pairing with a side much closer to home in the Lakeview Park outfit
It has been an impressive season so far for Fivemiletown, who remain unbeaten at the top of the Mid Ulster Intermediate A league.
"The way this season has been in general, we've treated every game as a cup final," said Robinson.
"Going into Christmas unbeaten was a great achievement for the lads, and fully merited. They've worked so hard for me since I've came into the job, and they're reaping the rewards now. It's only half-time for us in the league though. The big one for us now first and foremost is Loughgall on Saturday.
"The buzz around the place is superb. Everybody is looking forward to it. It's really got everybody talking. To never have been in the fourth round before is incredible but to be in the fifth round is even bigger. They deserve it every game. Every 'Goliath' we've played, we've come through it each time."
Fresh start
2016-17 saw a major overhaul at the Valley Stadium, with the appointment of Robinson as the new manager The former Ballinamallard Reserve manager 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.
Fivemiletown defeated Sirocco Works 4-1 in the second round before coming out on the right side of a nine goal thriller with Newingtown, winning 5-4 in the third round. 4-2 down with 15 minutes to go, many players cited Paul Baron's 94th winner has the highlight of the cup run to date.
The win over Dundela followed, and Robinson believes his side are fully capable of upsetting the odds once again against Loughgall.
"I was asked about the draw afterwards and I didn't really speak to any of the boys at first. It wasn't until I was coming back down the road when I thought, 'you know what, I'm happy with that draw'. We didn't get one of the big titans. We certainly don't have anything to fear against Loughgall."
Robinson also has full confidence his players will not be over-awed as the media focus and competition level goes up another gear.
"We've spoke a lot about that. We've said that things will be serious, and things will be asked, but we get on with our job.
"We've all to gain. It's a win-win situation. If we lose, it's superb to get this far, if we win, it's unbelievable.
“At the draw David Healy came over and said, 'I bet you wish you had have got us'. Why does he care who we got? So everyone is talking about us, about what we've done, so it's colossal for the club.
“We're bringing massive supporters and they've been absolutely superb. Hopefully we can carry them onto the next level."
Leaders
"There are a lot of leaders in our team," says Robinson. "Some teams you are always looking for a leader, but I have four or five sometimes.
“Matty Callaghan there drives the team and never gives up. Barry Anderson marshals the young boys at the back. We have the experience of Jason Gillespie and Paul Baron alongside the energy of Ricki Carroll up top.
Ricki is full of willingness. I'm sure a lot of bigger clubs are thinking, 'how did we miss him for the last 20 years.' He's 34 now, and just fell through the net in his early days. He keeps himself in terrific shape. He's a local boy whose come back in his 'twilight years' so to speak."
Robinson had particular praise for 18-year-old defender Gary Trotter. "Against Dundela, he marked Matty Burrows out of the game. He never got a shot. This is his first season in senior football. You look at these lads when you go into a club. You look around you and you spot a boy and think, 'he could be a player.' Young Trotter has turned out to be that. he's been super for me."
Having been a youth coach for an Irish League club before, and tasked with scouting young talent from local clubs, Robinson now says he is in a 'Catch-22' situation, with interest now coming from bigger clubs for some of Fivemiletown top young players.
"I spent three years at Ballinamallard doing the opposite trying to get these players from clubs. Now I'm thinking, 'now they're going to try and steal our cubs.' Ballinamallard have asked about Matty Callaghan. To lose him would be detrimental for us, but I'd never stand in the way for a young lad who wants to play Irish League football. It's early days for that though.
'Professional for a day'
“I've been involved in an Irish Cup Final whilst at Dungannon Swifts," said striker Paul Baron. "The whole day was amazing. Getting a suit fitted, a Police escort to the ground, interviews, and pictures for the match programme. 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".
Robinson commented: "It is good to give the club a bit of a profile, because it was lying sleeping for a while. Something had to waken it up, and hopefully we are doing something that will.
I think we're just enjoying the journey. It would have been different if we had a handy draw and got through. But we've played really good teams.
The committee and fans and supporters, boys who have been in the club their whole lives. You can see the smiles on their faces, the pride, it's super. All we can do is go out on the pitch and make them proud again.
"What we're doing is working. If it's not broken don't fix it.The boys have been giving the commitment, and we can't argue with that. We'll be going there on Saturday prepared as normal as if it were a league game. We start the same way, we play the same way, and we finish the same way. Hopefully we get the result."

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