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Top clubs to enjoy home comfort in the Irish Cup

By Stuart McKinley

Ronnie McFall and Roy Coyle each did themselves a favour in yesterday's draw for the fifth round of the Irish Cup.

The two most experienced senior managers in the competition were asked to conduct the draw and their respective sides came out of it with home ties against lower ranked opposition.

McFall's Portadown side, who won the Cup two years ago beating Larne in the final by the biggest score line in an Irish Cup final for over 30 years, will clash with First Division Bangor at Shamrock Park.

Coyle and his Newry City players will face Ballynure Old Boys of the Ballymena Provincial League, but at least they will be at home as had the tie come out the other way around Newry would have had to travel as Ballynure play their home games at Ballyclare's Dixon Park.

The two veteran managers also gave Linfield and Glentoran home matches, with the Blues hosting Oxford United Stars despite being drawn away and the Glens facing Ballymoney United at the Oval

"I am happy that we have a home tie. That's all you can hope for in a Cup competition," said McFall.

And there is no question of the Ports boss underestimating the First Divison side after their Cup exploits of a year ago.

"Bangor will have out utmost respect," he said.

"They had a great cup run last season getting to the semi-finals after beating Lisburn Distillery and there is no doubt they will be up for the game.

"Knowing their manager George Dunlop he will approach the game with the intention of knocking us out.

"Their players will also have benefited from the experience of getting to last season's semi-final and will want more of that."

There are guaranteed to be two non-Premier League sides in the last 16 after the top-flight clubs were mainly kept apart in the draw.

Mid-Ulster side Laurelvale will fancy their chances of progressing away to Comber Rec, but that wasn't the draw they wanted.

"My initial reaction is one of disappointment," said Laurelvale manager Keith Willkinson, who was with Portadown some 20 years ago.

The only other tie with no Premier League representation is Dundela's trip to First Division rivals Ards.

There are two all-Premier League ties with Larne, who have reached the Irish Cup semi-finals and final in the last two season's, at home to Cliftonville and Lisburn Distilley facing a trip to 2003 winners Coleraine.

Cliftonville will be considered the big favourites against struggling Larne.

The Reds are enjoying a fantastic season in the Carnegie Premier League and reached the final of the CIS Cup

But Cliftonville boss Eddie Patterson will take nothing for granted as he knows only too well that Larne are a club with a decent Irish Cup pedigree.

And of course the Solitude club have a huge match against the Glens in the semi-final of the Co Antrim Shield pencilled in only four days before the Irish Cup game on January 13.

Belfast Telegraph

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