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Tuesday 06 Dec 2016
Irish Cup holders to take on minnows in fifth round

Holders Glenavon will be involved in a David v Goliath tie as they begin the defence of the Irish Cup.

In today’s fifth round draw, staged at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, the Lurgan Blues were pitted against Northern Ireland Intermediate League side Portstewart.

Glenavon, who defeated Linfield in last season’s decider, will play the North-West side at Mourneview Park in Lurgan. 

Gary Hamilton, the Glenavon manager, said he was happy with the home draw but insisted his team would be wary of Portstewart as the cup is famous for giant-killing acts.

The tie of the round, however, will undoubtedly be the battle of Belfast’s traditional Big Two. Glentoran will take on Linfield at the Oval in round five of local football’s flagship knockout competition.

In today’s draw the 12 teams that make up the Dankse Bank Premiership and the 12 teams in the NIFL Championship were joined by eight sides who have battled their way through four rounds to make this stage of the fourth-oldest national cup competition in the world. 

The draw was conducted by ex-Linfield striker Peter Thompson, who won six Irish Cup medals, and former Glenavon stalwart Paul Byrne, who secured two Irish Cup winner’s medals during his 16 years with the Lurgan club.

Glentoran-Linfield is one of four all-Premiership ties in the fifth round. The others are Ards v Crusaders, Ballymena United v Cliftonville and Coleraine v Carrick Rangers.

Several of the intermediate clubs will fancy their chances of progressing to the next round as they have avoided the ‘big boys’ in the draw.

Fivemiletown United from Mid-Ulster Intermediate League A will be competing in the fifth round for the first time in their history - they were formed in 1889 some eight years after the competition was first staged -  when they take on Loughgall away.

And Trojans, from the Northern Ireland Intermediate League, will also be making their Irish Cup round five bow when they face Armagh City away.

There will definitely be at least one intermediate side in round six as the current table toppers in Mid-Ulster Intermediate League B, Richhill AFC, will be taking on Dollingstown from Mid-Ulster Intermediate League A. The mini Mid-Ulster derby will be staged in Richhill. 

All ties are to be played on Saturday 7 January, 2017.

Image: At the fifth round draw were (from left) Irish FA President David Martin, who is also chairman of the Irish Challenge Cup Committee, Glenavon chairman Adrian Teer, Glenavon players Jonathan Tuffey and Kris Lindsay, Portstewart chairman Eamonn Murray, Paul Gault from Portstewart, and guests Paul Byrne and Peter Thompson.

Tennent's Irish Cup fifth round draw in full: