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Friday 01 Mar 2024
Ports and Reds kick off weekend of Irish Cup action

The quarter-final ties in this season’s Clearer Water Irish Cup will be played across three days, starting later today.

First up is a last eight tie featuring Portadown and Cliftonville, while the weekend of cup action will culminate with Institute locking horns with Linfield on Sunday.

All four of the matches are NIFL Premiership v NIFL Championship encounters.

Shamrock Park in Portadown will host the first of the fixtures – and today’s game between Portadown and Cliftonville is being streamed live by BBC Sport NI (7.45pm kick-off).

It should be an intriguing encounter.

Portadown, who currently lie fourth in the Championship table, have already won the Mid-Ulster Cup and reached the final of the BetMcLean Cup this season. They play Linfield in the decider of the NIFL competition at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park on Sunday 10 March.

Cliftonville have been flying in the Sports Direct Premiership in 2023-24, however a couple of poor results have derailed their title tilt somewhat as they battle it out with champions Larne and Linfield for Gibson Cup glory.

Irish Cup glory is probably now more realistic and Jim Magilton’s side will no doubt be uber-keen to take another step towards ending a long-standing cup hoodoo. The Reds have not won the trophy since 1979, and they defeated the Ports in that final.

Portadown boss Niall Currie believes his team have nothing to lose. He says the game is “a free hit” because no-one really expects the Championship side to win the tie. However, upsets are a regular thing in cup ties, which makes them so appealing.

There are two last eight encounters tomorrow (2 March). Glentoran are at home to Ballyclare Comrades and Larne will be hosting Newington. Both games kick off at 3pm.

Glentoran will be looking to impress again in the Irish Cup when they take on the Comrades at the Oval. Last time out in the competition Warren Feeney’s side put six past NIFL Premier Intermediate League side Ballymacash Rangers.

However, Ballyclare are more than capable of causing an upset. After all, Stephen Small’s team defeated top flight outfit Dungannon Swifts 3-2 at Stangmore Park in the last round.

The game between current league champions Larne and Newington is being played on a ground familiar to both teams: Inver Park.

Inver is, of course, home to Larne FC, however north Belfast-based Newington have been playing their home games there of late.

The weekend of cup action will draw to a close on Sunday when Institute host Linfield at the Brandywell Stadium in Derry-Londonderry.

Kevin Deery’s Institute will fancy their chances against the Blues on their home patch.

In recent months ’Stute have been steadily climbing the Playr-Fit Championship table and are in the title mix along with Dundela, Bangor and Portadown.

Linfield are also competing hard at the top end of their league. David Healy’s team currently lie second in the Premiership table just a point behind leaders Larne.

The tie in Derry on Sunday has a 1pm kick-off.