Belfast Telegraph

Dungannon Swifts give IFA a break as cup semi goes ahead

By Conor McLaughlin

Dungannon Swifts have confirmed that Saturday’s JJB Sports Irish Cup semi final with Crusaders will go ahead as scheduled — sparing the IFA another player eligibility embarrassment in this season’s competition.

With the other last-four tie between Linfield and Newry City postponed pending the outcome of Ballymena United’s appeal against their expulsion, there had been a suggestion that the Swifts’ clash with Crusaders could go the same way after the Stangmore Park side had goalkeeper Niall Morgan sent off in last weekend’s 5-1 defeat to Glenavon.

Morgan must automatically sit out the cup semi-final and, with uncertainty surrounding the availability of Dungannon’s back-up keeper Jonathan Curran — also a Tyrone GAA player — the club had considered the possibility of signing an out-of-contract professional to fill the vacancy.

Doing so would, however, have contravened the same rule that saw Ballymena ejected from the tournament for fielding the ineligible Alan Davidson in their quarter-final victory over Newry and, with the Sky Blues having taken their case to an Independent Arbitration Panel, Dungannon would have been within their rights to wait for the outcome of that hearing before proceeding.

But a club official at Stangmore Park confirmed: “It was an option that had always been there in the background but one we would only have considered if we hadn’t had another goalkeeper to play in the game.

“It would probably have been poor form for us to try and get the game put back.

“The way we’re looking at it is that cups and cup finals always carry a wee bit of romance with them, so hopefully our regular keeper’s suspension paves the way for his deputy to come in and be the hero of this year’s competition. That would be a story in itself.”

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