Irish League clubs turn their attention to the JJB Sports Irish Cup this weekend, but some things never change and holders Linfield are still the side to stop!
BALLYMENA UNITED V CRUSADERS
I wasn’t even born when Crusaders last won the Irish Cup — it’s been a long 21 years! Don’t be fooled by the photograph above... the Gibson Cup was last seen on the Shore Road in 1968 but the Sky Blues will have little sympathy as they haven’t brought the big cup home since 1989! Whoever wins this contest will have the potential to go all the way and I’m backing Stephen Baxter’s men to sneak it.
Luney Prediction: 1-2
Ladbrokes odds: 9/5 Ballymena Utd 6/5 Crusaders 11/5 Draw
CLIFTONVILLE V DONEGAL CELTIC
Cliftonville must be hungry to get a game under their belts and the Irish Cup will be a welcome break from a Premiership campaign which has been a roller-coaster ride. But they will find the going tough against a DC side that will relish bringing one of the big boys down to earth. It won’t happen though.
Luney Prediction: 3-0
Ladbrokes odds: 1/2 Cliftonville 9/2 Donegal Celtic 11/4 Draw
GLENAVON V LINFIELD
Marty Quinn’s arrival at Glenavon is bad news for the Blues on the Irish Cup front as Quinner may as well arrive on the touchline with a superman cape on, given his stunning record in this competition. Even though the basement battlers have a survival fight on their minds, Glenavon, who have already beaten Linfield twice this season, will be up for a scrap. Only a brave man would bet against the Blues.
Luney Prediction: 0-3
Ladbrokes odds: 6/1 Glenavon 1/3 Linfield 10/3 Draw
GLENTORAN V COLERAINE
Coleraine will arrive at the Oval with plenty of respect but little fear of their opponents and in Gareth Tommons (pictured) they have a youngster who is certainly one to watch. But the Bannsiders, like everyone else, will not know which Glentoran team will turn up tomorrow. The one which means business or the one which folds under the pressure of expectation. Difficult to predict, but the Glens should progress.
Luney Prediction: 2-1
Ladbrokes odds: 4-9 Glentoran, 5-1 Coleraine, 13-5 draw.
INSTITUTE V DUNGANNON SWIFTS
Timmy Adamson is in red hot form for the Swifts — including three goals in the Irish Cup to date — and Stute will need to keep him quiet if they want to come out on top. The Riverside boys swept past Islandmagee 3-0 in the last round but this will be tighter.
Luney Prediction: 1-1
Ladbrokes odds: 5/4 Institute 7/4 Dungannon 11/5 Draw
LISBURN DISTILLERY V TOBERMORE UNITED
Tobermore are third from bottom in the Championship while the Whites hope to break into the top three of the Premiership so a shock is highly unlikely. Manager Paul Kirk would have been smiling when the draw was made and that smile will not disappear tomorrow.
Luney Prediction: 3-0
Ladbrokes odds: 1/5 Distillery 10/1 Tobermore Utd 4/1 Draw
NEWRY CITY V BANGOR
Co-operative Insurance Cup finalists Newry City are gripped by cup fever, while the Seasiders are feeling a little sea sick after Marty’s departure. Newry hammered eight past Portstewart in the last round and although they won’t perform an action replay, they will deliver another knockout blow.
Luney Prediction: 1-0
Ladbrokes odds: 11/10 Newry City 2/1 Bangor 11/5 Draw
PORTADOWN V LOUGHGALL
Big Ronnie McFall’s dream of embarrassing Linfield or Glentoran in the final is alive and kicking. It’s written in the stars above mid-Ulster.
Luney Prediction: 2-0
Ladbrokes odds: 4/7 Portadown 4/1 Loughgall 5/2 Draw