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Dunlop can't sleep but dreams

MICHAEL Dunlop is finding his sudden celebrity status all rather overwhelming.

The journeyman Albion Rovers centre-half, arguably the man of the match in the League Two part-timers' 1-1 William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final against Rangers, has had trouble adjusting to being recognised in the streets of Coatbridge, but knows victory in the replay at New Douglas Park in Hamilton tomorrow really would see him and his team-mates take their place in the pantheon of cup giant killers, alongside the players of Berwick Rangers in 1967 and Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2000.

"The past week has been surreal," said Dunlop, whose brother Ross also featured in the match. "People have stopped me in the street to say 'well done', stuff like that. It's been nice but I'm not used to this kind of attention. It was great for the whole Dunlop family to be a part of it. Ross was brilliant in the game and my dad Michael has a framed photo of us after the game standing on the pitch together. He loves that photo."

The 31-year-old, who has previously served Ayr United, Queen's Park, Dumbarton, Alloa and Stranraer, has had plenty of time to relive the images of the day. Despite booking last Monday off work to rest his weary limbs, he has found sleep hard to come by.

"I shook hands with Lee Wallace at the full-time whistle but I had no interaction with any other Rangers players," he said. "I was too busy enjoying the moment. We were all in the players' lounge after the game but no Rangers players were in. Our players and management went out for a meal and it was a great day all round. But one of the other things that has been strange has been my sleeping pattern was knocked out for a few days, totally ruined. With the hype and adrenalin, it took until Wednesday night before I got a proper sleep. I must have been really buzzing with it all.

"I hope there is even better yet to come. If we can knock Rangers out it will be incredible - the best moment of my career by some distance. Rangers will be clear favourites and rightly so. But we will go into the game with the right attitude and believe we can win it. Many shocks have happened in the past and this is our chance to be part of another one. It would be nice if people were talking about a famous Rovers win decades from now."

Also enjoying last weekend's heroic performance was Jim Chapman, the former Albion Rovers player and manager, whose efforts at Annan Athletic have won him the SPFL League Two manager of the month award for February. "I was at the game and the only downside was the fact that the replay scuppers our game with them," said Chapman. "I was delighted for the players though, because there are good players in the lower divisions, and good coaches and good managers. It came as no surprise to me, and it was great to see Michael Dunlop playing so well, and big Ciaran Donnelly who I took to Albion Rovers.

"I had a wee chuckle because I was with [Albion Rovers director] Robert Watt at the Queen's Park v Clyde game on the Saturday and he won the 50/50 draw and he was hopeful it was a lucky omen. I also reminded him that Rangers don't like March 9; it was that date last year that we went there with Annan and won.

"Some people say you only get one chance - I'm not so sure. If you go in with that positivity and that mentality then anyone can beat anyone."

Stewart Fisher

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Football

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