St Oliver Plunkett manager Gerard Crossley believes victory for his team in the Division Two League Cup final against Camlough on Monday evening would be the perfect way to round off what has been a promising season for his young side.
Plunkett reached Monday’s showpiece final at Blanchflower Stadium with a 5-2 victory over Ballymena in the first round and a narrow 3-2 win over Kilmore in the semi-final, and the manager was full of praise for his players’ performances in both those games.
“We played really well on the night against Ballymena and progressed to the semi-final against Kilmore,” he said.
“We had played them earlier in the season and knew what the game would entail. It really was a tough match, but again, we stayed focused, stuck to the task, and played some outstanding football and we got our just rewards by getting the win and a place in the final.”
Whilst thrilled with the victory, the manager was keen to ensure his squad didn’t get carried away and made them put the final out of their minds until their league campaign had concluded this week.
“When we got through to the final four weeks ago you could see the delight on the players’ faces and we enjoyed the night, but we knew the final wasn’t until August so our focus after winning the semi-final was the league, as we had plenty of points still to play for,” he continued.
“Now the league is over we are fully focused on the final and we will hopefully have one more session before Monday to prepare. We are now really looking forward to it, we’ve been terrific all year and deserve to be in the final.”
Cup Finals Week is almost upon us!— NIWFA (@NIWFA_) August 22, 2022
Camlough Rovers Fc vs St Oliver Plunkett FC 1969
Ballymoney United Ladies FC vs Greenisland FC
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The boss is hoping to have a good crowd of supporters at the game in East Belfast as Plunkett aim to upset the odds against the current leaders of Division Two.
“It would be great to get some of the younger girls down to watch so they can see what is ahead of them and hopefully we can get some of the boys’ teams down to watch too because it is going to be a great occasion,” he added.
Crossley concedes that it will be a tough ask for Plunkett to lift the trophy given the calibre of their opposition.
An experienced Camlough side are top of the table, 10 points clear of Plunkett in third.
The Newry outfit have also beaten Plunkett 7-2 and 9-3 in their two meetings this season, but Crossley was keen to point out that the results have not correlated with the performances of his side in those two games.
“We’ve played them twice this season, but I don’t think the score-lines reflect how well we played against them, especially at Sally Gardens,” he reflected.
“We were on top for the majority for the first half before conceding and I suppose it’s those fine lines in football which cost you in the end. We were on top for so long and then we got hit on the counterattack. We must be ready for their threat and be ready to deal with it, figure out how to break them down and nullify their attacks.”
Crossley is hopeful that Plunkett will make it third time lucky against Camlough and come out victorious in Monday night’s final, to cap off what he deems to have been a “tremendous season” with some long-awaited silverware.
“The girls have been brilliant this year,” he stressed.
“We have such a young team and for these girls to lift the trophy in their second season together in senior football would be amazing. I know we have a few girls who have lifted the trophy a few years ago but for these younger girls it would be some experience and I just hope we can get the job done on the night.”