GOALS, FRANKINCENSE AND MYRRH; PADDY POWER STEEL & SONS CUP FINAL, CARRICK RANGERS V ARDS SHARP CLAUS on Form Strikers James Costello and Darren Fitzgerald

The Mirror (London, England), December 23, 2008 | Go to article overview

GOALS, FRANKINCENSE AND MYRRH; PADDY POWER STEEL & SONS CUP FINAL, CARRICK RANGERS V ARDS SHARP CLAUS on Form Strikers James Costello and Darren Fitzgerald


Byline: BY MARTIN MAWHINNEY

ARDS striker Darren Fitzgerald is eager to add a Steel and Sons Cup winner's medal to the already considerable collection of silverware he has gleaned throughout his career.

The former Linfield, Rangers, Glentoran, Bangor and Ballymena United man has scooped the lot during his playing days.

You name it - Irish League, Irish Cup, Gold Cup, County Antrim Shield - whatever was there for the taking, the 30-year-old has taken it at some time or another.

The Steel & Sons Cup is the only omission from that list - but only because he has had so little time in junior/intermediate football to put himself in a position to win it.

But now he's just one match away from completing the set, Fitzgerald is determined not to let the opportunity pass him by.

He said: "The Steel & Sons Cup is a special competition, and in junior football it is the equivalent to the Irish Cup.

"It would be lovely to win it - that would top everything off for me.

"I know some of the supporters may think we should be at a higher level, that we shouldn't even be eligible for the Steel and Sons Cup, but that isn't the attitude of our players or the management.

"All we can do is give it our best and try But now he's just one match away from completing the set, Fitzgerald is determined not to let the opportunity pass him by.

He said: "The Steel & Sons Cup is a special competition, and in junior football it is the equivalent to the Irish Cup.

"It would be lovely to win it - that would top everything off for me.

"I know some of the supporters may think we should be at a higher level, that we shouldn't even be eligible for the Steel and Sons Cup, but that isn't the attitude of our players or the management.

"All we can do is give it our best and try to win every game we play.

"It is absolutely brilliant for the club, especially as a lot of our players are under the age of 24, and have never played in a major final before.

"We have done really well to make it to the final, because up to now, I don't really think we have performed to as a high a standard as we can."

So the message from Tommy Kincaid's men is clear - the best is yet to come. And that will be bad news for a Carrick side trailing their opponents by 14 points in the IFA Championship this season.

The Taylor's Avenue side know only too well the threat posed by Ards, who in their only previous meeting of the campaign, showed the grit and determination to bounce back from 3-0 down to bring the scores level.

Fitzgerald recalled: "We had pulled it back to the 3-2 by half-time, and by the end of the game, we could maybe have won it ourselves.

"I'd say the final will be a tight enough game this team round, and neither team will want to leak as many goals as they did the last time."

As the peninsula club's leading goalscorer this term, with 15 goals already to his name, there is a certain level of duty bestowed upon Fitzgerald to rise to the occasion on Thursday morning.

However, he is fully confident in the abilities of his team-mates, and knows that he is not the only man expected to deliver on junior and intermediate football's biggest stage.

He said: "We do have a fair few young players, but a lot of the boys in our team have played at a high level.

"You have the likes of Darren Stirling (ex-Crusaders), my best mate Andy McDonald (ex-Spurs, Linfield and Glenavon), and Kris Pike (ex-Glentoran), and the experience of players like Darren Nixon and Gary Spence.

"There is a fantastic team spirit at Ards, and we all work for each other. Obviously we have had the renowned problems over a ground, but none of us know much about that or worry about it.

"We just leave that up to the backroom staff and the committee men, and just get on with our job on the pitch.

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GOALS, FRANKINCENSE AND MYRRH; PADDY POWER STEEL & SONS CUP FINAL, CARRICK RANGERS V ARDS SHARP CLAUS on Form Strikers James Costello and Darren Fitzgerald
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