Five wins on the bounce might suggest Carrick Rangers have cracked it already and that all is rosy in the Taylor’s Avenue garden. But that is far from the truth and Michael Hughes readily acknowledges his team still have a way to go to get where he wants them to be. And now they must prepare for an appetising derby clash with Amateur League outfit Islandmagee on Saturday.
“It’s a huge attraction for both clubs and a massive match for us especially. It will be a tough game for us and there’s no question that there will be no quarter asked or given in a match we’re all eagerly looking forward to,” stressed the Rangers boss.
“Make no mistake about it, Islandmagee will be up for it. They will be very much wanting to get one over on their big, local rivals. And we must match them in that hunger and desire and I am sure we will do.
“We are under absolutely no illusions that we will need to play very well, have 100 per cent motivation and go into this contest with the right attitude – one that is very different to what was seen against UUJ.
“We will definitely not be treating Islandmagee lightly, because we want to win this game and progress as far as we possibly can in this Cup competition.
“We don’t know that much about their team because we haven’t been able to have them watched, but we know a bit. We are aware of their potential dangermen and we know enough to plan for the game.
“But the key to success will surely lie with getting ourselves ready for what will be a serious test and it’s my job to ensure that happens,” stressed the manager.
Islandmagee go into Saturday’s clash on the back of a confidence-boosting Irish Cup win over rivals Larne Tech Old Boys.
Stephen Donald’s (inset) side aren’t short of quality and they also know how to battle when the heat is on.
There’s a little added spice too. Island boast several ex-Carrick players including Michael Moore, Tyson Gray, Simon Moffatt and Billy Waide. You can be sure they will be keen to get one over their old club.
Despite having a full strength squad at his disposal, Donald isn’t expecting a miracle but said his underdogs will be fully focused on the Steel Cup clash.
“We are not expected to win this match but we will go out and give it a go,” he said.
“Carrick are going really well at the minute and we are all looking forward to playing them.
“Of course it would be a big scalp if we beat Carrick. We will prepare as best we can, and we will be ready for Saturday.”
Report by Kevin Hughes and John Gillespie