Ballinamallard manager Harry McConkey is expecting nothing other than a stern test when his side host Dergview on Boxing Day in the league. And the sides will meet again at the same venue four days later with silverware up for grabs in the final of the North West Cup.
First things first though for McConkey and his charges with the sole focus on that league encounter as the Ducks aim to maintain their push at the top of the Championship table.
“We have to try and keep the pressure on at the top of the table and to maximise our return from every game that we play. It’s all about concentrating on ourselves and not worrying about those other teams around us as we can’t affect their results,” said McConkey, whose side are three points adrift of league leaders Portadown in the table.
Dergview go into the Boxing Day meeting sitting second from bottom of the table but with it being a derby game, McConkey knows that his side will have to perform if they are to get the result. Indeed, Dergview defeated Ballinamallard in the opening week of the league although the Mallards won the last contest between the two at the start of November.
“Regardless of league positions, this is going to be a tough test for us,” said McConkey. “We are going to have to be right on top of our game and we will have to show the determination needed to want to win the game. The way the league is, we can’t really afford any slip ups and we want to try and keep building momentum.”
And there won’t be much rest for either set of players as they are straight into another derby at Ferney Park on Monday at 2pm in the cup final.
McConkey admits that the league remains the priority for his side but he is keen for his side to land silverware.
“It would be great to get silverware and I would love to see my players get a tangible reward for their efforts but in saying that the league is much more important for the club,” he added.
The Ducks manager hinted that there will be changes for the cup game as he looks to get game time for his squad.
“We would feel that we have a good strong squad and and it may be an opportunity for boys to come in and get some time on the pitch as they all want to play,” he said.