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Armagh City offer to enter Irish Cup after three Championship clubs withdraw from tournament



Glentoran won last year's Irish Cup with a final victory over Ballymena United.

Glentoran won last year's Irish Cup with a final victory over Ballymena United.

©INPHO/William Cherry

Glentoran won last year's Irish Cup with a final victory over Ballymena United.

Armagh City FC have written to the IFA to offer to take up a place in this season's Irish Cup.

The tournament is set to get under way at the last 32 stage in May but H&W Welders have now become the third team, after fellow Championship sides Queen's University and Newry City, to announce that they will not be taking part in the competition.

Now Premier Intermediate League side Armagh are offering to fill one of those newly vacant spots, having narrowly missed out on inclusion in the draw.

The current Premier and Championship clubs made up 24 of this season's original 32 participants, joined by the semi-finalists from last season's Intermediate Cup (Dollingstown, Newington, St James' Swifts and Belfast Celtic) and also PSNI, relegated from the Championship, and the PIL's next top three based on last term's table Portstewart, Bangor and Banbridge Town.

Armagh were the very next team in line and so, have volunteered their services to make up the numbers.

"The club has today written to the Irish FA indicating it's willingness to compete in this season's Irish Cup," a statement read. "Since we only missed out on an invitation based on the PPG method used to determine last season's league placings we believe we should be given the chance to compete."

After Armagh City, next in line would be Lisburn Distillery, followed by Moyola Park, Limavady United and Tobermore United.

The Welders said they would not be taking part 'given the circumstances' of this year's tournament, with both the Championship and PIL seasons having already been cancelled without a single game played.

Queen's, of course, shocked Linfield in last season's Irish Cup but will not take place after making their decision by way of a player vote, manager Peter Thompson revealed.

"We had a period of consultation within the club about whether or not we felt it was right to participate in this year's competition," he told BBC Sport NI.

"It was clear to me that the most important people in making this decision were the players, so we spoke to a group of senior players who then organised a vote on the issue.

"The players voted emphatically not to play in this year's competition, and what was coming back to me was that the decision was a principled one.

"All organisations have values and we just felt that it was not the right moral, principled stance to take part in this year's competition, not given how they feel they have been treated this year by the governing bodies.

"Therefore, the decision was quite emphatic and we as a club are 100% behind withdrawing from the Irish Cup. I am proud of the players, it is the right decision to make.

"I don't want to get into the ins and outs of it in terms of the blame game - I think everyone knows the background and context to it all with elite status."

Irish Cup round of 32 draw

Queen’s University vs Bangor* - Queen's have withdrawn from the competition

Warrenpoint Town vs Ballyclare Comrades

Ards vs Dollingstown

Coleraine vs Crusaders

Glenavon vs Dungannon Swifts

H&W Welders vs St James’ Swifts

Institute vs PSNI

Knockbreda vs Newington

Loughgall vs Banbridge Town

Ballinamallard United vs Dergview

Cliftonville vs Portstewart

Linfield vs Annagh Utd

Larne vs Newry City* - Newry City have withdrawn from the competition

Glentoran vs Dundela

Ballymena Utd vs Portadown

Carrick Rangers vs Belfast Celtic

Belfast Telegraph

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