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Sunday 01 May 2016
Intermediate Cup Final preview

For Ards and Institute the old adage that every game is like a cup final really couldn't be any closer to the truth ahead of Monday's Intermediate Cup decider at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park (kick-off 7:30pm).

It has been a huge and historic week for both clubs and it's difficult to think of two more fitting protagonists to round off the season.

After a slight stutter during the week Ards finally clinched the Championship 1 title and promotion back to the top flight following a three-goal defeat of Loughgall on Saturday afternoon.

Niall Currie's side now have the double firmly in their sights but have to overcome the challenge of an Institute side that are hitting form at just the right time.

'Stute have quietly but steadily gone about their business after a somewhat unsure start to the campaign and now not only find themselves in Monday's final but also in the Danske Bank Premiership play-offs with a double header against Ballinamallard United.

Indeed, as midfielder Stephen O'Donnell alluded, everything is just falling into place for Kevin Deery's side at just the right time.

"If you had said after the first five games of the season that you were going to finish in the play-offs and have a cup final to look forward to I don't think too many would have been believed you," he told the Londonderry Sentinel.

"There's been a good turnaround in the club, everyone's working hard and everyone is delighted with how we're doing. It's a good time to be involved with Institute."

The sides met as recently as last Saturday in Drumahoe when goals from Denver Gage and Carl McComb coupled with a Ryan Brown penalty save gave Ards the advantage.

Yet, back in November, 'Stute held the upper hand with a two-goal victory so it's really anyone's guess what way this third meeting will go. A real head-to-head in every sense.