Belfast Telegraph

Non-league Oxford United hope to be Stars of last 16

By Keith Bailie

There will be at least one non-league side in the hat for the sixth round draw of the Tennent's Irish Cup tomorrow evening, and Intermediate League club Oxford United Stars are hoping it will be them.

The Londonderry club travel to The Cliff in Larne to face exiled Belfast side Crumlin Star in tomorrow's only fifth round clash not to feature a Premiership or Championship team.

Crumlin Star, under the guidance of Sean Brown, are currently 10th in the Amateur League Premier Division while Oxford are fourth in the NI Intermediate League.

Oxford boss Emmett McLaughlin confessed that Crumlin Star wasn't exactly the draw they had been hoping for.

"When any intermediate side reaches the fifth round of the Irish Cup they want to face one of the big boys, like Linfield or Cliftonville and I know Crumlin Star felt the same way.

"The flip side of it is, it's a great chance to reach the last 16 of the Irish Cup, which would be a massive achievement for either club. Reaching the sixth round would really help put our club on the map, so there's plenty to play for."

Oxford United Stars will go into the fifth round clash with no shortage of confidence. They've already knocked three Amateur League clubs out of this season's Irish Cup, including reigning Premier Division champions Ards Rangers. McLaughlin said: "Our lads have nothing to fear as we have already defeated a few Amateur League clubs this season.

"We've done our homework on Crumlin Star, so we are well prepared for the fixture. We know they are a very good side but we are confident in our own ability.

"Our club is built on our youth system. The majority of our first team squad came through our youth academy, so an Irish Cup win would give our current crop of young players a lift. We were in the Irish League in the past, and we would like to get back to that level in the future but, for now, our focus is on creating quality young footballers."

Elsewhere, Championship Club Armagh City will host Championship Two side Portstewart at Holm Park. Armagh had a frustrating Christmas period after their Bob Radcliffe Cup final against Loughgall on Boxing Day was postponed. No new date has been arranged for the showpiece final.

Fortwilliam Park in Tobermore is synonymous with the Irish Cup. In 1984 George Best played for Tobermore United against Ballymena United in the famous old competition. This year's fifth round tie is likely to be rather more low key with Tobermore hosting fellow Championship Two club PSNI.

Belfast Telegraph


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