Barry Baggley described Friday night’s Steel Cup duel with Belfast Celtic as a “free kick” as his side seek to secure one against the West Belfast side for the first time in three attempts.
Indeed, it will be the third consecutive campaign – notwithstanding the 2020/21 Covid elimination season – that the Roses have faced the men of Glen Road Heights in the Steel Cup, losing 1-0 last year and 5-3 a few seasons before that.
Baggley is familiar with the Wee Hoops and their manager Stephen McAlorum, having played under assistant manager Jim McMenamin on their Rosario debut, and is familiar with the former Mac contingent among playing staff, including midfielders Marty Bradley and Emmett Templeton.
Baggley even recently tried to poach three of their players who grew up with his son, Barry jnr – a promising midfielder across the water at Fleetwood Town – namely Dylan Snodden, Lee O’Brien and Darren Hyland.
And he got the truth about the Celts at the weekend from his brother Owen, manager of Donegal Celtic, who lost to their namesakes in the Irish Cup on Saturday, conceding a 96th-minute equalizer before McAlorum’s men do not conclude more. -time.
Able to pay players unlike the Amateur League, and with plans to join the Irish League, Belfast Celtic enter the draw at Ulidia as favourites.
But Baggley says it suits him very well, allowing his players to play without pressure.
“First we have Islandmagee on Tuesday night which is tough and then Belfast Celtic on Friday night which should be good,” Baggley said.
“I know everything about Belfast Celtic, they have a lot of quality, good technical players, but the way I look at these games is it’s a free kick for us, everything to gain and nothing to lose.”
Baggley was delighted to record a first win of the season when he returned to the Amateur League top flight on Saturday after losing his first two games in a row to Shankill United and Comber.
Thomas Burns got the ball rolling from the first minute at home against Killyleagh, with Pierce Arterton and young ‘prospect’ Max Miller – promoted to the top tier after a breakthrough 20-goal season with the second string last season – scoring his first goal for the first to crown victory.
“We led 1-0 after 50 seconds, had a great start to the game, then went into half-time 1-1,” Baggley explained.
“But then Pierce scored and then youngster Max Miller scored his first senior goal.
“He’s one of the players who came out of the younger age groups.
“He had a great season for seconds last year, he’s a very good prospect and he came off the bench and took his goal very well.”