This year’s Electric Ireland Women’s Challenge Cup competition is due to kick off towards the end of this month.
The draw for the opening three rounds of the cup was staged today at the Danny Blanchflower Lounge in the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.
The matches in the early rounds of the competition will be played on Friday 25 September, Friday 2 October and Friday 16 October.
Five seeded teams will then enter the cup at the quarter-finals stage. The last eight matches are scheduled to be played in early November with the semi-finals later that month, And the final, which is usually staged in September each year, will be played in early December.
The draw for the first three rounds was made by Cheryl Lamont, vice chair of the Irish Football Association’s Women’s Challenge Cup Committee, and Anne Smyth from sponsor Electric Ireland.
For the 2020 competition all matches will be played at venues arranged by the Irish FA, with the hire cost paid by the association. Further information on venues for the matches will follow in due course.
In this year’s first round there is actually only one tie and 11 byes. Lisburn Ladies and Ballymena United FC Women will face each other on 25 September, while Bangor Ladies, Belfast Celtic Ladies, Belfast Swifts Ladies, Carnmoney Ladies, Comber Rec Ladies, Larne Ladies, Lurgan Town Ladies, Mid-Ulster Ladies, Rosario Ladies, St James’ Swift Ladies and St Oliver Plunkett Ladies have all received byes.
In round two, on 2 October, Lurgan Town Ladies will take on Rosario Ladies (Match 1), Belfast Swifts Ladies face Bangor Ladies (Match 2), St James’ Swifts Ladies are up against Comber Rec Ladies (M3) and Mid-Ulster Ladies have been drawn to play Larne Ladies (M4). Match five will feature St Oliver Plunkett Ladies and Belfast Celtic Ladies and match six will see either Lisburn Ladies or Ballymena United FC Women face Carnmoney Ladies.
And the third round will pitch the winner of Match 5 in R2 against the winner of Match 3, M2 winner v M1 winner and the M6 victor against whoever comes out on top in Match 4.
The teams competing in the early rounds all play in NIWFA leagues. The five seeded teams are NIFL Women’s Premiership sides Cliftonville Ladies, Crusaders Strikers, Linfield Ladies, Sion Swifts Ladies and current holders Glentoran Women.
Anne Smyth, Northern Ireland Sponsorship Lead with Electric Ireland, said: “It’s great to see the Electric Ireland Women’s Challenge Cup get under way. We know how committed and dedicated the players are and I’m certain they will be keen to get back on the pitch.
“There is a wealth of talent across the game and we look forward to the excitement of competitive matches and following the teams progress through the competition.”
Image: Electric Ireland’s Anne Smyth (left) and Cheryl Lamont, vice chair of the Irish Football Association’s Women’s Challenge Cup Committee, made the draw for the opening three rounds of this year’s Electric Ireland Women’s Challenge Cup competition.