A repeat of last year’s final will help to kick off round two of this season’s Samuel Gelston’s Whiskey Irish Cup.
When Linfield and Larne met in the Irish Cup decider in Lurgan last May it was the Blues who came out on top, winning 2-1 at Mourneview Park, and it was more comfortable for Linfield than the final scoreline suggests.
In addition the Blues (in second place) are currently well ahead of Larne (fourth) in the race for the NIFL Danske Bank Premiership title. There’s an 11-point gap between them after 25 games.
However, just last month Larne reigned supreme when they defeated the Blues 1-0 in the final to retain the Co Antrim Shield.
So tonight’s Samuel Gelston’s Whiskey Irish Cup encounter at Inver Park has the potential to be an intriguing contest and one which both teams will be desperate to emerge victorious from. Expect some dram-a!
There’s another R2 game tonight and it’s an all-Championship affair. League leaders Newry City will be taking on mid-table Ards, who were reinstated in the competition after their round one opponents Dundela, who won the tie 3-2, were subsequently dismissed from the cup for fielding an ineligible player. It’s also a 7.45 start.
The Inver Reds v Blues clash is not the only all-Premiership tie in the second round of this season’s competition as Carrick Rangers will be hosting Cliftonville and Coleraine are set to face Portadown at home when the remaining six ties are played tomorrow (Saturday 5 February).
The David v Goliath tie in the round will see Premiership side Ballymena United go toe to toe with Portstewart from the NIFL Lough 41 Premier Intermediate League.
On paper Ballymena, currently occupying a mid-table berth, should stroll past Portstewart, currently at the wrong end of their league, but results are never a given in cup football.
There are also a few tasty Premiership v Championship encounters in store.
One of them is a repeat of the 2019 Irish Cup final when Championship side Ballinamallard United take on Crusaders at Ferney Park.
The others are Dungannon Swifts, who have been playing some slick stuff in recent weeks, at home to Annagh United, while Queen’s University are hosting Premiership leaders Glentoran.