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Grimsby midfielder Gavan Holohan says his side must relish Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Brighton whatever the outcome.
Cup fever has swept through Lincolnshire since Holohan’s two penalties at Southampton in the previous round catapulted the Sky Bet League Two club into dreamland.
The Mariners became only the sixth team from the fourth tier or below to reach the last eight since 1959 and the first since Lincoln in 2017.
Holohan said: “There’s no getting away from it, we knew after the last round the magnitude of the game, an FA Cup quarter-final on the horizon.
“We’re under no illusions, it’s going to be a tough ask. They’re flying high in the Premier League.
“We’re going to go and give it everything and embrace the occasion. I think that’s key, to not let it pass you by because they don’t come round that often.”
It is not just Mariners fans living the dream. Paul Hurst’s side have already made FA Cup history by becoming the first club to knock out five teams from a higher division – Plymouth, Cambridge, Burton, Luton and Southampton.
They only regained English Football League status last summer after winning three National League play-off ties against Notts County, Wrexham and Solihull, all after extra time.
Holohan’s two penalties at Southampton sent the Mariners into the last eight for the first time in 84 years.
“It was a magical night, obviously one you dream of as a kid,” the 31-year-old Irishman said.
“It’s a long career, with plenty of lows in there as well, but it makes it worth it when you get a special night like that.
“As League Two footballers we haven’t reached the heights of Premier League footballers, so these are the occasions you dreamt of as a kid.
“It’s huge. You see how much it means to the community of Grimsby. It’s a working-class community and they graft all week to come and watch their team.
“For us to be able to give them special days like it will be on Sunday, it means a lot to us as players and as a group. We know they’ll be right behind us.”
Hurst told the media on Friday he was praying for another miracle and had warned his players before watching video footage of Brighton earlier in the week that it was “an 18 certificate”.
Holohan said: “Obviously everyone was laughing when he came out with that. He comes out with some crackers to be fair.
“We’ve watched them. We know how good they are, the calibre of player that they have. They’ve got World Cup winners in their team.
“It’s going to be another step up from Southampton. We’re going to need to play another level up and hopefully have some luck on our side.”
Asked if he would be celebrating St Patrick’s Day with a few pints of Guinness on Friday night, Kilkenny-born Holohan added: “Unfortunately not.
“But hopefully on Sunday, if we pull off a massive shock, I’ll have a kegful.”
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