Football: Swifts ready for Cup clash with Mallards

Dungannon's Andrew Mitchell
Dungannon's Andrew Mitchell

The first thing any manager wants in the Irish Cup is a home draw, the second being a tie against opposition which gives them a chance to win.

Dungannon Swifts can, therefore, have little real complaint since were fortunate in that they came out of the hat first- and they are paired with a team they defeated just a fortnight ago in the league.

Okay, the pessimistic view might be that they have been unlucky in being involved in one of only two Fifth Round head-to-head ties between Premier League clubs, but that in itself will be looked upon as a blessing by the optimists in that it will ensure there will be a big crowd to see whct should be a fiercely competitive game.

Ballinamallard United are, after all, what is now considered their derby opponents and they are a team which always tries to play attractive enterprising football - much the same as the host club.

Thus it was that Whitey Anderson and his charges were at Stangmore Park for the Boxing Day clash, two goals from Andrew Burns easing the relegation worries of the home team in a 2-0 win.

The Tyrone stardard-bearers built on that with a draw against league champions Cliftonville on Saturday in a match where they might well have deserved to take all three points, although the manager conceded that he would have been happy to settle for one if it had been offered before the kick-off.

The match against Glenavon was postponed last week and Darren Murphy will have to bring his team to Lurgan on Tuesday night for the league game at Mourneview Park, but he’s also looking forward to the cup action.

“It’s a competition that I’ve always enjoyed and I want the players to go as far as they can in it” said Murphy, himself an Irish Cup medal winner in his Linfield days.

“A cup run is great because it gives everyone around the club a lift.

“I could have picked an easier tie to start with, equally it could have been more different.

“There are twelve Premiership teams, just four are involved in all-Premiership ties, so in that respect we could have been more lucky” added the Portadown man.

So, it’s a very important week for all at Stangmore Park, the important pursuit those valuable league points in midweek keeping them very much on their toes, but with a keen eye extended as well, especially by the supporters to the glitz and glamour that is reserved for the Irish Cup.