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Saturday 08 May 2021
Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup R2 preview: Holders Glentoran enter the fray

The Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup resumes today with eight second round ties which will take the winning sides a step closer to a place in the Mourneview Park decider at the end of the month.

Holders Glentoran enter the fray for the first time in what promises to be the tie of the round when they welcome Cliftonville to The Oval. Mick McDermott's side received a bye last time out following Dundela's withdrawal while the Reds swept past Portstewart.

This will be the fifth time this season the sides have met and despite the Glens coming out on top on three occasions each game has been closely fought, being settled either by just one goal or a late winner. Kicking off at 5:30pm, the game will be streamed live on BBC NI and the iPlayer.

It's one of two all-Premiership clashes with the other seeing league leaders Linfield host bottom of the table Dungannon Swifts.

The Blues have hit eight goals without reply in the three previous encounters this term but the Swifts proved in their first round victory over Glenavon that league form doesn't necessarily carry over when it comes to a one-off nothing to lose cup scenario.

Last season's runners-up, Ballymena United, welcome PSNI to The Showgrounds. The Sky Blues are chasing a potential European play-off spot to make up for the disappointment of failing to make the top six and have bagged no fewer than 11 goals in their last three outings against Portadown, Glenavon and Carrick Rangers.

PSNI, by contrast, won't have kicked a ball in anger in 215 days since their only competitive outing this season, a 6-0 loss to Linfield in the Co. Antrim Shield back in October. However, as shown in the last round, those sides making a return to action after a long lay-off certainly didn't disgrace themselves so it would be remiss of David Jeffrey's side to take anything for granted going into the game.

It'll be a similar story at Inver Park when Larne host Dollingstown who, like the PSNI, play in the Premier Intermediate League. 

The visitors only have a couple of Bob Radcliffe Cup games to fall back on from this most unusual of seasons, although they have been limbering up with a busy schedule of friendlies against St James' Swifts, Newington, Annagh United and Loughgall. Larne, meanwhile, go into the game following back-to-back league victories over Cliftonville and Crusaders.

The Crues make the journey across Belfast to face Knockbreda. On paper Stephen Baxter's side should have too much for 'Breda but they will come up against a side no doubt reinvigorated after their return to competitive action following a win over Newington in the previous round thanks to a goal in each half from former Larne striker Cillin Gilmour. 

 

And that is something Warrenpoint Town will also be aware of when they visit Loughgall at Lakeview Park. The Villagers got past Banbridge Town via a penalty shoot-out in the last round while 'Point defeated Ballyclare Comrades thanks to Ryan Swan's 75th-minute winner, a victory that has since set Barry Gray's side off on a three-game winning streak.

Carrick Rangers lock horns with Bangor at the Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena. The 'Gers have struggled at the wrong end of the table all season, albeit interspersed with some impressive performances, but they did comfortably sweep past Belfast Celtic in the last round.

The Seasiders are back in action for the first time since October but their preparations have included warm-up wins over PSNI, Annagh United, Knockbreda and a draw with a Glentoran XI.

Meanwhile, there is guaranteed to be one club from outside the Premiership in the quarter-finals. That will come from the winners of the clash between Dergview and St James' Swifts at Ballinamallard's Ferney Park ground. 

Ivan Sproule's Dergview defeated the Mallards in the last round following an epic penalty shoot-out while the Swifts, managed by former Cliftonville favourite Barry Johnston, dip their toes for the first time after receiving a bye.

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In accordance with Rule 11, the Irish FA's Challenge Cup Committee has determined that matches in all rounds of this season’s Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup, if resulting in a draw at the end of 90 minutes, shall be decided by penalties in accordance with the conditions approved by the International FA Board with no extra-time required.

Protocols have been drawn up to ensure the competition can take place safely with all arrangements subject to change depending on government guidance. 

The Irish Cup has been designated as ‘elite’, which means all participating clubs are being afforded elite status for the period of time they remain in the competition.

Participating Championship and Intermediate clubs have been back in full training since the start of April under elite protocols, which includes testing for players and coaching staff, and they have also been able to play friendly matches against other participating clubs subject to the Irish FA’s testing programme. 

Each fixture in the round, as well as those in the quarter-finals, will have a member of staff from the Irish FA assigned to it to act as ‘Match Observers’ to monitor adherence to Irish Cup protocols and ensure the competition is delivered as safely and responsibly as possible.