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Oval was only real choice for Irish Cup semi-final, admits Coleraine boss McAree



Rodney McAree

Rodney McAree

Rodney McAree

Rodney McAree has revealed that he would have preferred Coleraine's Irish Cup semi-final against Crusaders to take place in Ballymena for the sake of his club's fans but appreciates the Irish FA had little alternative but to choose The Oval.

It is understood that the IFA Challenge Cup committee opted for the east Belfast venue due to concerns over the pitch at the Ballymena Showgrounds, where a number of fixtures have been postponed this season.

Ballymena would have been more equidistant between Coleraine and Crusaders. Bannsiders supporters will now make a round trip of around 120 miles.

The game, like the other semi-final between Warrenpoint Town and Ballinamallard United at Mourneview Park, is scheduled for March 30 with a 3pm kick-off, though that is subject to change should one of the fixtures be selected for live television.

McAree said: "We would have preferred it at Ballymena for our supporters but it's not there and we have to get on with it.

"There have been issues with the Ballymena pitch, Windsor Park appears to be out of the question because it doesn't seem to be affordable and we wouldn't have wanted to play on a synthetic pitch because the Crues play on that surface at home, so I don't see an alternative.

"It will be a tough game but we have beaten them already this season and they have defeated us so it will be interesting."

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Warrenpoint were supposed to play Glenavon in last night's Mid-Ulster Cup final at Stangmore Park but the decider was postponed due to the pitch being unplayable. Organisers are hoping to re-schedule a new date as quickly as possible.

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