Bluebell relishing Derry tie

by Stephen Findlater

BLUEBELL United boss Andy Noonan said that his club has landed one of the plum ties in the FAI Senior cup third round draw, one which pits them against Derry City in late August.

It follows their epic replay victory over Athlone Town in the second round, and has the potential to be a lucrative day out against the League of Ireland Premier side.

Speaking to GazetteSport, he said Derry were one of the sides the club were hoping to draw.

“They were one of the four big names in the hat that we were looking to get. For the club itself and the players involved, it’s a massive occasion and a huge task for junior players to go up against the likes of Derry, who are a fantastic side.

“But on any given day anything is possible and if we prepare ourselves right, a shock could be on the cards.”

For Derry, the tie will come at peak-time, with just a couple of months remaining in their league season. For Bluebell, however, the August date comes just a week after the start of the Leinster Senior League campaign, a situation which adds to the importance of their pre-season programme.

Noonan says that while the league is the priority, such a big cup tie will focus the side.

“It is definitely something that will be referred to over the course of preseason, because the fitness level of the League of Ireland is streets ahead of anything we will come up against.

“We need to be as fit as possible and as organised as possible. Even for our league campaign, it will be a massive boost.

“It’s something to work towards but our main focus is our first league which will be the week previous to it. We’re gearing up for that; the cup is an occasion that can be enjoyed.”

Currently, the club are starting to look into options on where they can host the tie. Noonan says, though, that he will not be involved in that process, but added that he does not really mind where the game is played, saying: “We’ll play in the Phoenix Park if the FAI allow us”.

His panel will be reasonably settled for the tie with only Ian Cherry moving on during the off season, switching to Verona to take on the managerial reins.

Gareth Cooney, Tony Keeler and Andy McNulty have been added to the panel, while a few more could be brought in before the season starts.

For club captain Glen Madden, it is likely to be a family affair with his younger brother Simon a regular Derry starter.

“We definitely won’t be overawed by the occasion; it’s just about getting ourselves physically and mentally right to compete,” said Noonan.

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