Belfast Telegraph

Irish League managers are ready to renew old rivalry

by Keith Bailie

Irish League legends Gary Smyth and Pat McAllister will clash in tonight's Toals Steel & Sons Cup semi-final at Seaview.

Smyth's Harland & Wolff Welders will battle it out with McAllister's Sport & Leisure Swifts for place in the Christmas morning final against Carrick Rangers, who beat Ards 2-0 in the other semi-final on Friday night.

Former Glentoran, Glenavon, Ballymena United and Crusaders defender Smyth said: "'Packie' and I played against each other many times, including two Irish Cup finals.

"We're from the same generation in many ways, I came through in the late 80s and 'Packie' came back from Dunfermline and played for Cliftonville and Newry, although I think he had his best days at Coleraine. He was a tremendous player who always showed a lot of character and fought for everything."

McAllister, who played for Coleraine in two Irish Cup finals against Smyth's Glentoran, said: "It's funny because 'Smicker' and myself played against each other for 20 odd years but I don't remember ever having a problem with him.

"But nobody will be paying through the turnstile to watch myself and Gary standing on the touchline.

"They will be there to see the players, who are the guys who deserve the credit."

With Ards, Carrick and the Welders all focusing on the Steel & Sons Cup, Bangor were able to extend their lead at the top of Belfast Telegraph Championship One to seven points, with a 4-2 win over Knockbreda.

Larne moved into second place with an impressive 4-2 win over Loughgall at Lakeview, while Lisburn Distillery overcame Dundela 4-3.

Donegal Celtic defeated Ballyclare Comrades 4-1, with Hoops' boss Nicky Maye commenting: "I honestly thought we could have scored a few more. The pleasing thing for me is that we played a passing game, which is the way I want to see my teams play."

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