Clubs from the Amateur League have impressed recently in knock-out competitions, so who better to represent the league in Northern Ireland’s premier knockout tournament than current league leaders Ards Rangers.
The Drome Park club travel to high flying Championship One side Loughgall in an intriguing Irish Cup encounter at Lakeview.
The Rangers currently sit six points clear at the top of the NAFL Premier Division with a game in hand over nearest rivals Abbey Villa but young manager Lee Forsythe isn’t getting carried away.
“It’s going to be tough as Loughgall are a good cup team. Niall Currie’s teams are always strong and competitive and they’ll be the favourites on the day.”
The former Ards Colts manager continued: “It’s not going to be easy for us but if I didn’t think we had a chance we wouldn’t bother showing up. In recent weeks we’ve had an-all Amateur League Steel Cup Final and Malachians went to Limavady and won in the Irish Cup.
“You have to take a lot of heart from those performances. We’ve players in our team who, I’m confident, can play at a higher level but it is up to them to go out and prove it.”
One disappointment for Ards Rangers is that star midfielder Ryan Newberry will miss the match through suspension.
The only all non-league tie of the round sees Amateur League Premier Division side Nortel host the lowest ranking club left in the competition, Bryansburn Rangers.
The Bangor side are currently fourth in Amateur League 1B, 73 places below league leaders and cup holders Crusaders.