Amateur League club captain dreaming of Irish Cup shock against Warrenpoint Town - and claiming some family bragging rights in the process

St Oliver Plunkett captain Michael Healy leads his side into a historic Irish Cup tie against Warrenpoint Town. PIC: Andrew McCarroll/ Pacemaker Press
St Oliver Plunkett captain Michael Healy leads his side into a historic Irish Cup tie against Warrenpoint Town. PIC: Andrew McCarroll/ Pacemaker Press

Healy led the Lenadoon Park outfit to NAFL Division 1B title success last season and they’ve started in similar free-flowing fashion during this campaign, currently occupying top spot in 1A after scoring 19 goals in their opening four games.

Plunkett received a plum tie with Warrenpoint, who finished second in the Championship in 2022/23 before being demoted to the Premier Intermediate League, the first Irish League club set to visit Lenadoon in the Irish Cup.

While there’s no outside expectation on the west Belfast outfit to pick up a result, there’s an added incentive for Healy with his two younger brothers, Noel and Brian, currently plying their trade with Premiership side Newry City – Warrenpoint’s rivals.

"This will be the first Irish League club we've hosted at Lenadoon,” said Healy. "There shouldn't be any pressure but my two brothers play for Newry City so they are putting a wee bit of pressure on with it being the rivalry between Newry and Warrenpoint!

“There's a bit of extra pressure on my younger brother and I with the two of us at Plunkett and the two others at Newry.”

And what about a potential meeting down the line between St Oliver Plunkett and Newry City?

"That wouldn't be until the fifth round but one can dream!" he laughs. “It would just be nice to beat the Point for them."

Eamon McGonigle’s side progressed to the second round by beating Newcastle 7-3 and in their league match prior to that encounter defeated Killyleagh YC 11-0.

Striker Gary Dunlop has started the campaign with nine goals in six outings and Healy says they’ll be using the exact same attacking approach against Warrenpoint on what is a massive occasion for the club.

“All the boys in the surrounding area are looking forward to it,” he added. "It's a great occasion for us.

"The reason you play is for days like these and I see they have supporters buses on too so it'll be a great day.

"Clubs at our level only really have one goal in the Irish Cup and that's to try and get through to the fifth round and hopefully get one of the Irish League clubs.

"It just so happens that we're able to do that in the second round with Warrenpoint.

"We still see them as a top Irish League club so to be able to get them so early in the competition is brilliant for us.

"We've a certain style of play and we don't change it for anyone.

"Even on Saturday we're that stubborn that we're not the type of team that will sit behind the ball and try to frustrate Warrenpoint - we're going to go at them."

Plunkett are no strangers to defying the odds – they became the lowest-ranked side to ever appear in an Intermediate Cup final when they were narrowly beaten by Crumlin Star last season – and Healy dreams of pulling off another upset.

"Nobody will give us a hope on Saturday apart from our own dressing room - we always give ourselves a chance,” he added. “There's no pressure on us.

"This is the level we want to be at and you want to test yourselves against these teams by playing your own style and seeing how it goes.

"We're not going to go out to bore the spectators - we'll go at them and give a good account of ourselves."