Sports

Local duo set for David v Goliath challenge

Thursday, 2 February 2017

IRISH Cup fever is set to hit Loughgall and Armagh this weekend as the NIFL Championship duo play host to Premier League opposition in the sixth round of the competition.

Armagh City welcome reigning champions Glenavon to Holm Park for a 3pm start, while a few miles up the road Niall Currie will return to his old club with his beleaguered Portadown side for an intriguing cup tie at Lakeview Park for a 3pm start.

Former Lakeview Park supremo Currie enjoyed a hugely successful spell at Loughgall between 2007 and 2011 and he will be well aware of the threat that Dean Smith's side will pose to his out-of-form side.

Regardless of their current league form, both Glenavon and Portadown will go in to Saturday's cup clashes firmly installed as favourites to progress to the quarter-finals of Northern Ireland's most prestigious knockout competition.

However, Loughgall manager Dean Smith admitted that all of the pressure will be on Portadown as they make the short trip to Lakeview Park.

“Last year Portadown were beaten in the quarter-finals by Lurgan Celtic and the pressure is all on Portadown going into the game.

“Yes they may be sitting bottom of the Premier League table for one reason or another, but they are still a Premier League side and we will give them plenty of respect.

“However, we will look after ourselves and we won't worry about what Portadown are doing.

“If we get an early goal then it will put them under pressure and hopefully we can make home advantage count."

Armagh City manager Marty Rice said he was relishing the opportunity to play the role of 'David' as Mid-Ulster giants Glenavon make the trip to Holm Park.

“I get a great buzz from upsetting the odds and working out a way to beat a team with bigger resources than ourselves.

“I love a good challenge and this Glenavon game is a great opportunity for us.

“If we are to cause an upset then everything has to fall kindly for us and Glenavon need to have an off day, but listen it is cup football and we will go out there and give it a real go and see where it takes us."

Last weekend Armagh City had a free weekend in the NIFL Championship, while Loughgall gave their slim chances of finishing in the top six a huge boost with a stunning 4-1 win away at Inver Park against David McAlinden's Larne FC.

For a full preview of both Armagh City's clash with Gary Hamilton's Glenavon and Loughgall's clash with Portadown, turn to page 53 in The Ulster Gazette Newspaper.

Both games kick off at 3pm on Saturday and they will be played to a finish.

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