Belfast Telegraph

Lowry brothers set for biggest chapter of their sibling rivalry in Irish Cup semi-final

Coleraine v Crusaders, Tennent’s Irish Cup Semi-Final, The Oval, Tomorrow, 5.30pm

High stakes: Stephen knows only one Lowry brother will be celebrating
High stakes: Stephen knows only one Lowry brother will be celebrating
Philip Lowry

By Alex Mills

The Lowry brothers, Stephen and Philip, will today celebrate a family wedding, but tomorrow they'll turn into rivals when Coleraine and Crusaders go head-to-head in a Tennent's Irish Cup semi-final showdown at The Oval (5.30pm).

It's a game that offers the Bannsiders the chance of keeping their hands on the trophy they won so impressively by beating Cliftonville last May, while it gives their opponents the opportunity of ending a horrible 10-year drought.

With no disrespect to the other tie - featuring Warrenpoint Town and Ballinamallard United - this showdown between two Premiership heavyweights has all the ingredients of being a cup classic.

Although the Lowry siblings, who were both Irish Cup winners with Linfield, will this afternoon share a joke at the family gathering, things will not be so cosy in east Belfast tomorrow.

Coleraine ace Stephen laughed: "Although we'll be at a family wedding, there will be no celebratory drinks for Philip and I.

"It's a cousin that will be married, I'm sure there will be a bit of banter around the dinner table.

"We both know there is so much at stake. It's undoubtedly the biggest game we've participated in against each other.

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"Someone has got to win and someone has got to lose out - we'll still be speaking after it. At least one of the family will be guaranteed a big day out."

Both teams approach the game with contrasting fortunes - Stephen Baxter's Crusaders are unbeaten since February 9, while the Bannsiders are coming off a horrible result at Institute.

"We owe the fans a performance," conceded Stephen. "Our form has been up and down this season. It's been one of those seasons, and it hasn't been good enough.

"Yes, we can make excuses. We've changed manager, we've changed personnel to a certain extent and we've been badly affected by injuries.

"There has been no consistency. To achieve anything in this league, you need to be consistent. However, none of our supporters will remember the poor performances if we make it to the Irish Cup final.

"It's our last chance of achieving silverware and, on our day, we can beat any side. I know Crusaders will be aware of that.

"We also know the threat they have, (David) Cushley and (Jordan) Owens are a handful.

"It's set up nicely. It's now the biggest game of the season for both clubs - everything is riding on this one."

The game could also spring open the door for European qualification for the eventual winners.

Stephen added: "I know the Crues are sitting in third place, but they'll still see this as a massive match.

"They are in a good position in terms of qualifying for Europe, while we also have the end-of-season play-offs, but both sides will want to put silverware on the table.

"The winners of our game will probably be favourites in the final, but that's being left for another day.

"Given their recent form, Crusaders will be favourites going into it, but that will not concern us.

"I've never been beaten in a semi-final before, so I hope that record will still be intact."

Belfast Telegraph

From Belfast Telegraph