On New Year’s Day, Bangor will carry the burden of favouritism going into their Linden Cup clash with Raphoe, having beaten the Donegal side 3-0 in the Ulster Premier League only last weekend.
Bangor have been going great guns in the league and are sitting proudly at the top of the table, having dropped only five points from eight matches.
Raphoe, in contrast, have yet to register a win this season and sit one place off the bottom of the table. However, Bangor coach Scott Parker insists Monday’s final at Deramore will be an entirely different ball-game from last week’s contest.
“Although we may be favourites based on our league position, finals are never quite like that and we will be well aware of the danger Raphoe can pose,” he said.
“On Saturday past we were three up at half time so failed to score past them in the second half so it certainly won’t be an easy game.
“Our guys will be well drilled on what we need to do as will Raphoe so it’ll be down to who performs better on the day.
“It’s a great day out for both clubs though and we are all very much looking forward to it.
Re the season so far, we are nine games in with 10 to go – obviously I’m delighted with where we are sitting.
“But we are well aware that we haven’t played Kilkeel or Instonians yet so the feet are firmly on the ground.”
Parker will, however, have to shuffle his deck with a number of players being deemed ineligible for the final following mid-season transfers.
It centres around the interpretation of Rule 5 (b) (i) of the UHU Competitions Rules and Regulations. In relations to transfers, it states: “a player may not play for two clubs in any non-league competition”.
Parker said of the situation: “Two weeks ago, we emailed asking the branch were Phil and Stephen Hamill and Cody Walker eligible as our understanding of the rule was that they couldn’t play in the same cup as Mossley which was the Kirk cup.
“The branch responded and said they were free to play. Then, on Wednesday with five days to go, we got an email to say they no longer were. We are obviously very disappointed but the team we have is the team that got us to the final so I’m more than happy with what I have.”