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Irish Cup run has been a lifeline for Banbridge Town, says Stuart King

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Big day: Stuart King is relishing clash at Coleraine

Big day: Stuart King is relishing clash at Coleraine

Big day: Stuart King is relishing clash at Coleraine

Banbridge Town manager Stuart King says his side's Irish Cup run this season has been as vital to the club off the pitch as it has been exciting on it.

King is relishing today's sixth round clash at title-chasing Coleraine - not just because it gives him and his players the opportunity to take on top flight opposition but it is also the first time in decades that Premier Intermediate League outfit Banbridge have reached this stage of the competition.

Like all clubs at that level, it can be challenging financially, so the money accumulated from the cup run and what will be earned from the match with the Bannsiders is extremely useful.

"We have had it tough in the league this season and it has been a bit of a struggle to keep players and attract new players to the club, so a cup run is huge for us as it is covering half of my budget for the whole year," reveals King.

"The run has been vital in terms of the prize money so far, and the two big ties we had at home earlier in the competition with cash through the gate and at the club bar.

"Ballymacash and East Belfast are two of the biggest Amateur League clubs and both games attracted big crowds for us, and the bar was buzzing.

"Also, we had two great results because they are strong outfits. When we made it into the sixth round I was praying for a big tie, and to get Coleraine away is fantastic. I know their manager Oran Kearney and have a lot of respect for him and I'm very friendly with William Murphy, Paul Owens, Stephen Douglas, Stephen Lowry and Chris Johns, who either coach or play for them.

"We are really looking forward to it, and the money we will receive from playing in a tie like this will be a massive help."

Former Linfield and Ballymena winger King has guided Banbridge to Bob Radcliffe Cup glory in his time in charge.

He will look to the likes of Lewis Houston and Danny Devlin to shine and will have much backing from the town.

"We know we are underdogs but we want to give it a go,'' says King. "It will be a brilliant learning experience for our lads and it puts them in the limelight. You never know what can happen if we play really well.

"There will be four or five buses going from Banbridge and we want to put on a performance for them as well as ourselves."

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