Enniskillen are back in the Towns Cup final for the first time since 2007 and chasing a first win in the competition since 1937.
They are rank outsiders against a formidable Bangor side which sits atop Qualifying One with 15 wins from 17 contests.
Those stark facts notwithstanding Enniskillen coach Norman Richmond is adamant the Fermanagh men won’t be in Kingspan Park on Easter Monday just to make up the numbers.
“We have been able to watch a couple of their games and we know where they’re strong and the areas where we believe we can target them and look to exploit weaknesses,” said Richmond. “But we need to replicate the kind of performance we had against Ballynahinch II in the quarter-final for the full match. It’s a cup final and anything can happen in that 80 minutes.”
Richmond is nobody’s fool though and he fully expects the north Down men to present his side with their stiffest challenge this season.
“Bangor are big team, they are very strong physically, they clearly like to go to the gym quite a bit. They’ve a strong pack and a very strong nine, ten partnership and they’re quite well equipped out on the wings.
“They’ve a few lads there who are pacey and strong runners so what we need to do is nullify that threat early on the game and take our chances whenever we get them and see where that takes us.”
Now into his second season at the helm, the highlight of Richmond’s tenure to date was the semi-final victory over Clogher Valley at the Cran. That was a win which was a significant marker in the development of this resurgent Enniskillen outfit.
“Clogher Valley are never an easy team to play against, never mind beat,” said Richmond. “But we understood what they’re game plan was like and we were able to work on a strategy to counteract that. It was a good win for the club to set us up for the final of the Towns Cup.”
Richmond believes that upset also played its role in Valley’s uncharacteristic whitewash last week against Bangor, rendering that result essentially meaningless.
“The scoreline from Bangor’s game against Clogher Valley on Saturday is not a fair reflection. Clogher were missing seven players through injury having competed against us. Whenever you are faced with that number of individuals out it is always going to be a big ask against a team who are undoubtedly a class act. I wouldn’t read very much into that scoreline.”
The Enniskillen boss’s cause is greatly aided by a clear sick bay, with all hands available for selection for the final.
“We’re at full strength for the final. We’re going into the game with a clean bill of health. We’re very lucky in that respect, we came out of the Carrick game last Saturday injury free and we’ve a couple of players coming back now so, from a coaches perspective, I have a full set of cards to play from.”
For the next few days it’s a case of counting down, nailing the last few plays and making final preparations for Kingspan and Easter Monday. Richmond wants his men to embrace the experience and the memories it will create.
“Not everyone gets an opportunity to play at Kingspan. I’m lucky enough in that I’ve played there, but looking around the dressing room I was actually surprised at the number of players who hadn’t donned the boots there. It’s going to be a big, memorable for a lot of these players to have that chance to run out at Kingspan.”
Paths to Final
Enniskillen 34 Rainey OB 12
Bangor 77 Lisburn 7
Lurgan 17 Enniskillen 32
Bangor 10 Ballymena 3
Enniskillen 16 Ballynahinch 0
Bangor 48 Donaghadee 3
Clogher Valley 6 Enniskillen 8
Bangor 25 Omagh 12
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