Belfast Telegraph

Ballywalter are out to build on shock triumph

By David Mason

Ballywalter's Davy Palmer insists his team carry the underdogs tag ahead of tomorrow's IBA Senior Cup clash against Portadown at Dunleath Park.

The Private Greens League Division Two side produced the shock of the second round when dumping out hot favourites Ballymena on their own patch late last month.

That surprise victory earned Ballywalter home advantage over NIBA Division One side Ports – the game was scheduled for last weekend but was rained off along with a number of other cup ties.

But Palmer believes his team will again have to raise the bar if they are to book a slot against Larne or Ballycastle next time out.

"The victory over Ballymena was unbelievable – probably the club's biggest ever win," said Palmer.

"But we'll still start as underdogs against Portadown. They may have escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season, but we were only one point away from being relegated ourselves.

"Having played for Bangor for 18 years, I know how dangerous Portadown can be. We'll give them the respect they deserve and we will be taking nothing for granted, but realistically it's a great opportunity for us to progress, especially on our home green."

Ballywalter will be at full strength following that remarkable success at Ballymena, where they won an all four rinks.

"The Ballymena match is now gone," said Palmer.

"We enjoyed the occasion and I don't think anyone could have denied us the win as few teams these days manage to beat the Sky Blues on all four rinks.

"We are going into this tie in good form following our seven points league win over Comber.

"Morale is high. It will be a big test, but one we are looking forward to."

Meanwhile, Larne's David McRandal is hoping the omens are good ahead of his team's rearranged third round date with Ballycastle at Glenarm Road.

The east Antrim boys produced a superb performance last time out, defeating one of the tournament's big guns, Whitehead, on their own green.

"Ironically the last time we defeated Whitehead in the Irish Cup was back in 2005 and we went on to reach the final, only to be beaten by Belmont," said McRandal.

"Hopefully our last result is a good omen. The game was washed out last week due to the weather and although we may be classed as favourites to go through, we'll be taking nothing for granted.

"There were quite a few shocks in the last round, with Ballymena, Whitehead and holders Coleraine all crashing out, so anything can happen in this game."

Belfast Telegraph

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