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Irish Cup draw: Glenavon host Crusaders in only all-Premiership tie as Linfield welcome Mid-Ulster side to Windsor Park


Glenavon and Crusaders have had to postpone their meeting for a second time

Glenavon and Crusaders have had to postpone their meeting for a second time

©INPHO/Presseye/Stephen Hamilto

Linfield players celebrate beating Larne 2-1 in last season's Irish Cup final at Mourneview Park.

Linfield players celebrate beating Larne 2-1 in last season's Irish Cup final at Mourneview Park.

Inpho/Stephen Hamilton


Glenavon and Crusaders have had to postpone their meeting for a second time

There will be only one all-Premiership tie in the first round proper of this season's Irish Cup.

Glenavon will host Crusaders while all of the remaining 10 top tier sides avoided each other in the first round matches, which are due to be played to conclusion - with extra-time and penalties if necessary - on Saturday, January 8.

The headline pair last met in the competition in the 2016 semi-final, when Kevin Braniff scored four in a stunning individual performance to earn Glenavon a 4-3 win. The Lurgan Blues went on to beat Linfield in the final.

They also came head to head with the Crues in the 2014 semi, Glenavon also winning that one and following it up with final success, this time against Ballymena United.

Crusaders' last Irish Cup win over Gary Hamilton's side came a year previous, a Paul Heatley hat-trick inspiring a 4-1 sixth round success at Seaview.

Championship leaders Newry will be eyeing revenge over their rivals Warrenpoint Town as they've been pitted against one another in a south Down derby at Milltown. It's a reverse of a League Cup tie in September, which saw Greg Moorhouse fire Point to a 2-1 extra-time victory at the Showgrounds.

Holders Linfield will host Mid-Ulster Football League side Oxford Sunnyside at Windsor Park. Their Lurgan-based visitors, previously Oxford United until a name change in 2011, have seen off Chimney Corner, Rosario and Intermediate A rivals Tandragee Rovers so far in this season's competition. Their fourth preliminary round 2-1 win over Rovers came thanks to goals from former Ballinamallard United and Loughgall striker Warner Mullen, 36, and Adam Rodgers, who has played in the Premiership for both Ards and Portadown.

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For boss David Healy, it's a chance to win a third Irish Cup as Linfield boss and he says that the rather rushed schedule to last season's closing rounds mean there's an added hunger in his dressing room... if even just for one notably absent perk during their recent win.

"I know a few of our lads are still going on that they didn't get their (cup final) suits last year so hopefully this year," he smiled.

"Normally you get a few weeks between the semi-final and the final, the players get their suits and there's a bit of enjoyment and excitement.

"It was just bang, bang, bang last year, playing (the semi-final) on the Tuesday and the final on the Friday. I think it probably worked in our favour.

"I love the Irish Cup, everybody enjoys it.

"Everybody wants to be part of (the final). It's the biggest day. When you retire and look back in 20 or 30 years, they are great memories."

On his side's draw, Healy says the Blues will take nothing for granted, especially with memories of their defeat to Queen's University in January 2020 still fresh.

"I'm not going to tell you any lies, I don't know a lot about Oxford Sunnyside as yet but, especially when you come to play Windsor Park, they're going to enjoy playing here," he said.

"We've been here before, we've played intermediate teams and we've struggled at times so we'll do our homework, prepare properly and look forward to the challenge as I'm sure they will; their club, supporters and families and the players.

"We'll give them every respect. They've earned the right to be in the same round that we are."

There are three more non-league sides joining Oxford Sunnyside in round one as their fellow Mid-Ulster club Windmill Stars go to Premiership high-flyers Coleraine while Amateur League side Ards Rangers are at Ballinamallard United.

For the other NAFL team left, it's the hardest possible tie - on paper least - as the lowest ranked side in the round one draw Islandmagee are away to the highest ranked in Premiership leaders Cliftonville.

Elsewhere Glentoran go to Dergview and Larne - last season's beaten finalists - are away to Premier Intermediate League leaders Bangor.

Irish Cup first round draw in full

Warrenpoint Town v Newry City

Glenavon v Crusaders

Ards v Dundela

Linfield v Oxford Sunnyside

Institute v Portstewart

Ballymena United v Loughgall

Bangor v Larne

Cliftonville v Islandmagee

Knockbreda v Dungannon Swifts

Dergview v Glentoran

Ballinamallard United v Ards Rangers

Queen's University v Newington

Ballyclare Comrades v Carrick Rangers

H&W Welders v Annagh United

Coleraine v Windmill Stars

Portadown v Limavady United

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