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Monday 14 Aug 2023
Irish Cup | First round recap

The Irish Cup final traditionally brings the curtain down on any given season but for many clubs Saturday's First Round ties marked the beginning of yet another long campaign.

With 40 ties taking place up and down the country there was no shortage of the thrills, spills, drama and excitement associated with cup football.

And it seemed many clubs had dusted off their shooting boots for the season ahead, with no fewer than four clubs bagging eight goals on their way to the next round - and a couple of those even managed it on the road!

Oxford Sunnyside travelled to east Belfast to take on Bloomfield and needed barely 60 seconds to open the scoring through Jordan Bell.

A Dale Malone double followed by a Justin Armstrong strike gave the visitors a strong advantage at the break before Christopher Lavery, Jamie Burns and Marcio Soares with two completed the scoring.

Portstewart enjoyed similar success in the capital as they swept past Suffolk.

Ryan Campbell bagged the early opener, and then doubled up midway through the first half. Paul Smith added a third before the break - one of four for the summer arrival from Maiden City - with Taylor McBride and a Scott Irvine own goal completing the rout.

Smith was one of three players to bag four goals, as was Banbridge Town's Stephen McCavitt as they crushed Cookstown Youth at Crystal Park.

McCavitt claimed his first on the stroke of half-time, by which stage Liam Vaughan and Favour Kwelele had already put Mark Kerr's side into a commanding position. He hit a further three after the break and was joined by cousin Michael who grabbed a brace of his own.

Greenisland's Dylan Moore also hit four. He got his afternoon off to a blistering start with two goals inside the first seven minutes, found the net again around the half-hour mark and completed his own personal tally a couple of minutes into the second half.

He was joined on the scoresheet by Gareth McGuinness, Michael Dunn, Conal McWilliams-Small and Lewis Kennedy as Orangefield OB were swept aside at Glenkeen Avenue.

A further eight match balls were claimed as Gary Liggett (Dollingstown), Alexander McImail (Abbey Villa), Ciaran McLaughlin (Ballymoney United), Gary Dunlop (St Oliver Plunkett), Henry Capper (PSNI), Scott Maxwell (Woodvale), Curtis Houston (Rosemount Rec) and Jack Sharvin (Drumaness Mills) all helped themselves to hat-tricks in their respective games.

It wouldn't be cup football without a healthy dose of nailbiting drama being on offer.

Portaferry Rovers provided perhaps the twist of the afternoon with two very late goals to see off Finaghy at the Cloughey Road Playing Fields.

Scoreless at the break, Finaghy seized the advantage early in the second half through Marcus Greenfield. It was a lead they held until as late as the 89th minute when skipper Brian Fitzsimmons levelled to seemingly force extra time. However, Roy Wilson had other ideas and promptly popped up in stoppage time to knock home Portaferry's winner!

Portadown's St Mary's YC also snatched victory from the jaws of defeat away to Richhill AFC.

Two goals inside the opening quarter-of-an-hour from David Ross and Jac McElveen saw Richhill storm into the lead, but St Mary's were handed renewed hope on the stroke of half-time when Paolo Tavares headed home from a corner.

But with no further goals after the break Richhill could have been forgiven for thinking they'd done enough - until a minute into stoppage time when Clementino Vicente levelled with a superb strike.

Extra time produced no further goals before St Mary's squeezed through on penalties to cap a remarkable comeback.

Two other sides needed spot kicks to progress. Ballynahinch United defeated St Luke's while 18th Newtownabbey OB got the better of Malachians.

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