Ballinamallard captain Richard Clarke knows that cup football can provide unexpected results and he stresses that the pressure is all on Dungannon this Saturday when the sides meet in the Irish Cup quarter-final at Stangmore Park.

“Cup football is totally different to the league, you can be going really well in the league but end up losing a cup tie, or you can be going poorly in the league and winning the cup tie. It is about playing the game in front of you, yes there is an incentive there for the semi-final, but I think it is important for us to go and enjoy the game and the occasion as the pressure is all on Dungannon as they are the Premier League club,” he stated.

And Clarke is in no doubt that manager Harry McConkey will have them well prepared for the task in hand.

“We are the underdogs but we are confident in the players we have and although it is away from home we will go there with a game plan and Harry will have us well prepared,” he said.

Not too many would have predicted that the Mallards would be where they are now after a poor start to the season and Clarke says that the hard work they have put in has paid off and that they have taken great confidence from the way they have turned things around.

“Considering the start we had to the season, if we were told in October that we would be in the top six and in the quarter final of the Irish Cup, we would have been shocked. But it just shows you how hard we have been working and how much we have clawed back in the league and that belief has stemmed into the cup as well,” he said.

Key for Ballinamallard on Saturday will be to make a positive start to the game and Clarke knows that the first goal will be crucial in the tie.

“We will be looking to make a good start, that is the main objective,” said the former Glentoran and Crusaders midfielder. “It is about starting the game well and then playing it in chunks. It is important to get over that first 15 minutes and put our own stamp on the game instead of Dungannon dictating to us.

“We are under no illusions, it is going to be quite a difficult game but it is about implementing what we are doing all week and trying to put it into practice in the match. Both teams will be looking for that early goal to get them settled and that first goal is important in cup ties because the team that gets it can sit back in and the team that doesn’t get it have to go for the game,” he said.