Enniskillen Rangers are bidding for a place in the history books as they prepare to take on Lurgan outfit Hill Street FC in the Junior Cup final on May Day Bank Holiday Monday.
It’s appropriate the junior soccer showpiece is on day for the celebration of international labour as the Gers have certainly had to work hard for their shot at greatness.
The Ball Range men have overcome seven opponents to reach to book their place at the Windsor Park showdown. Still regularly pulling on the boots himself, Rangers player manager Michael Kerr is understandably thrilled to be in touching distance of big time silverware.
“This is my second year and to get to the final is a great feeling. From the very start our aim was to get to Windsor Park. Now that we are at the final, it’s not just about the day out, you’re there to win it.
“Nerves will play a part, but nerves aren’t a bad thing as long as you handle them right. What I keep telling the team is that it’s about what happens inside the white lines.
“Outside those white lines you could have one or two thousands supporters, but in that stadium it will look like five or ten people. You are in a big stadium, it’s a big occasion, there’ll be music, the pitch will be getting watered and everything is so much bigger, but all of those things are out of our control. It’s about what happens on that pitch when the whistle blows, that’s where we come into our own.
“That’s my plan for the final and there’ll be no drastic changes. It’s worked for us up to now. There’s no point in us taking now and going up to stay in Belfast the night before the final. You want lads in their own beds and their own routine.”
Fortunes have taken a upward trajectory for Enniskillen Rangers since their move to the Ball Range and Kerr’s appointment as manager. This season, as well as reaching the Junior Cup final, they have been pushing hard for honours in the top flight of Fermanagh & Western Division 1.
Kerr is honest enough to admit that keeping all those plates spinning was always going to be a challenge. However, he insists that his side are coming into form at just the right point of the season. More than that though, he believes they are starting to show the character of winners.
“We feel good. We had a good win against Lisbellaw who were pushing for the league. If they had won their four remaining games they would have won the league. We’ve always had a big rivalry with them and it’s a physical and passionate game. Both teams hate losing.
“When we went 1-0 down at half-time I said to the lads I wanted to see their character. I wanted to come out of it with at least a draw, but if we got the second goal I believed we would win the game.
“Our fitness levels are really good. We’ve trained very hard, and it’s not just 11 or 13 boys, it’s 20 to 22 training and everyone is pushing everybody on. That means in the last 15, 20 minutes of games we never fear any side and drive on.”
Posted: 3:43 pm April 30, 2017