Saturday is going to be a very special occasion for Ballinamallard skipper Richard Clarke.

Not only will he lead out the Mallards at the National Stadium at Windsor Park on Cup final day, but he will do it against a former club that he still holds close to his heart.

Clarke won two league titles with Crusaders before joining the Mallards and he admits that when the semi-final draw was made, this was the final that he wanted.

"I actually looked at their semi-final and our own semi-final and ideally I wanted to play Crusaders in the final because of the connections with the club. I loved my time there. The two titles are the stand out for me and it was probably my last chance at a big club to win the league and that is the ultimate goal when you start out in your career. To win a league twice is brilliant and I would go back there quite often to watch games so it will be a special day and I suppose I can't lose at such. If we win I will be delighted, it will be sheer euphoria, but if Crusaders go on to win the cup I can't be too disappointed," he added.

Little did he think though that when he left Seaview for Ferney Park that the sides would cross paths in an Irish Cup final.

"I suppose when I left Crusaders for Ballinamallard you don't really think about Irish Cup finals. It is difficult for these so called smaller clubs to reach these showpiece finals and it is something that I would have only dreamt off when I came here," he stated.

Clarke has also tasted Irish Cup success having been a member of the Glentoran team that defeated a highly fancied Cliftonville in the 2013 decider.

"Cliftonville were strong that year, they were going for the domestic treble and we were massive underdogs," he recalls. "We didn't start particularly well that day and I remember Elliott (Morris) pulling off a couple of great saves to stop them going 2-0 up but in the second half we pushed on and Cliftonville lost their way a little bit and it just shows what can happen on the day. They were flying and beating every team but Andy Waterworth got a goal out of nothing and the rest was history. It was a special feeling, the North Stand was full of Glentoran fans and I will always remember the atmosphere and celebrations after the game because it was difficult season for us with a lot of financial difficulties so it was nice to finish that year on a high."

And now he is back in another cup final as captain of Ballinamallard and he he acknowledges that it is going to be a massive day for the club.

"For Ballinamallard it is so special. For the club to be playing in the cup final is unbelievable and for the players it will be a brilliant experience. The whole cup final day, getting the suit on, going to Windsor and even the whole fireworks before the game. The whole day will be special."

He stresses though that it is vital for them to grasp the opportunity when it is here.

"I've said it quite a bit, you can't miss opportunities in football because you don't know when they are going to come round again. There are young lads in the squad and this will be their first final but they don't know when the next one will come around. In my whole career this is only my second final and there are a lot of good players who have never been in an Irish Cup final. You have to grasp these moments," he added.

Clarke expects Cruasders to try and make a quick start in the game and put the Ducks under pressure from the first whistle.

"In the semi-final we started well and grew into the game and that is something we need to do on cup final day because Crusaders will be coming out and they will try and go for the jugular so the quicker we settle the better. In fairness, with young lads there is no fear and we have dealt with the big games well this season."

So, what would it mean to win the cup with Ballinamallard on Saturday?

"You dream a wee bit and there is no doubt about it, with the stature of the club, it would be my biggest football achievement. It is a fairytale if you think about it," he said.