Premiership bottom club Ards face a Carrick team who are starting to hit a good patch of form. Ards have only managed one victory since mid October and this will be a real test for the three time winners of the famous competition.
Niall Curry’s Carrick have started to hit a good run of form. Unbeaten in their last four games and sit in a promotion play-off place there is every chance of them getting a result this coming Saturday. These two teams will be very familiar with each other as Carrick just suffered relegation last season.
The PSNI travel to Fermanagh this weekend to face ‘The Ducks’ who have started to find their form in the Championship. After a really poor start to the season for the Mallards they have began to climb the table. With impressive victories over Larne, Dergview and Limavady in the past three weeks they will be going into this one high in confidence.
Only four points separates the two teams in the Championship table and the PSNI will be aiming to use the Irish Cup fixture as a marker to the Fermanagh side that they are in a fight in the bottom six. Each of these two teams are more than capable of beating each other on their day.
An all Premiership affair comes at Solitude where The Reds take on Dungannon Swifts. Cliftonville last years beaten finalist’s will be aiming to try and go one better this year. The North Belfast side have win the famous trophy a total of seven times. However, the last time they did manage to win it was the season of 78/79. Barry Gray’s side look all but out of the title race so their concentration may well turn to a successful Irish Cup run.
Dungannon find themselves in a real relegation battle in the Danske Bank Premiership. They sit just three points off the bottom of the table. Kris Lindsay will be aiming for a victory to inject some confidence and belief in his troops. The only Irish Cup final Dungannon Swifts reached was back in 2007 where they were defeated by Linfield on penalties. The Swifts have the know how of defeating Cliftonville in a cup competition, defeating them earlier in the year at Solitude in the League Cup.
Last years winners Coleraine will be pleased with the draw they got. Struggling for league Consistency the Irish Cup will come as a good distraction and a game they should be winning comfortably. Two wins on the bounce in their league campaign Coleraine will be hoping to make it three wins in a row for the first time under Rodney McAree. The Bannsiders will have new signings Jamie Glackin and Ben Doherty available for this one as they bid to retain the Irish Cup.
The Welders sit in fifth spot in the Championship just four points behind Portadown in third. Its been an impressive start for the East Belfast cub and will certainly be travelling to Ballycastle Road with absolutely nothing to loose.
Undoubtedly the tie of the round comes at Seaview. The Crues have found form again in the league and are just five points off the top after a terrible start. Stephen Baxter will be demanding success in the Irish Cup as the ‘Hatchet Men’ have not win it since 2009. The two teams faced each other on Saturday past and it took a late David Cushley penalty to separate the two sides.
After such a promising start things are far from good at the Oval. Glentoran are just seven points off the bottom of the table which is not acceptable for a club like Glentoran. With no win in eleven games I cant see them turning it round at Seaview. The Glens have had great success in the Irish Cup winning the trophy 22 times most recently in 2015. Ronnie McFall will be hoping a positive result here can kick start their season.
Intermediate side Maiden City travel to Castlederg this Saturday to face Championship strugglers Dergview. The Irish Cup tie could well be a healthy distraction for Ivan Sproule’s Dergview. The Derg men have started to put in more solid performances of late and this will be a game they will be aiming for victory in.
Maiden City come into this one with four wins on the bounce and certainly have nothing to fear. The intermediate side put up a good fight against Crusaders in last years Irish Cup narrowly loosing 2-0 at Seaview.
High Flying Ballymena travel to East Belfast to face Championship side Dundela. David Jeffrey’s men surrendered top spot in the Premiership on Tuesday past after a 3-2 defeat at Crusaders. Ballymena have win this famous competition five times and with their current squad they are more than capable. I fancy Ballymena to dent the Duns in this one.
With one win in five Dundela have an up hill task in this one. Manager Bryan McCarroll will be hoping his players can make life very difficult for Ballymena at Wilgar Park.
Glenavon will go into this one without the services of Mark Sykes who has joined Oxford United this week. The Lurgan Blues are off the back of a disappointing result on New Years day loosing 3-1 to Warrenpoint. They have certainly had a dip in form after a bright start and will be aiming to pick up results consistently again. Glenavon have win the Irish Cup twice in the last five years, gaffer Hamilton will be keen to bring silverware back to Mourneview once again.
Amateur League side Rosemount were certainly delighted when they got pulled out of the hat to play Glenavon! Currently playing in Division 1C of the Northern Amateur League will certainly be a massive ask to defeat Glenavon in Lurgan.
Another all Premiership affair comes at the Brandywell. ‘The Point’ travel to the North West to face in form Institute. ‘Stutes’ impressive form now stretches to six games unbeaten and have been very impressive in their Premiership return. Paddy McLaughlin will have confidence in his players to win the game and book their place in the next round of the Cup. Striker Michael McCrudden is in fantastic form with 18 goals so far and is certainly attracting interest from other clubs.
Warrenpoint picked up their first win in five games on Tuesday away at Glenavon. On their day this is a fixture they are more than capable of getting a result from. The last time the two sides met it was an away victory for Stute back in October.
This could be a cracker! Championship runaway leaders Larne host Premiership side Newry this weekend. Another stern test to assess where Larne are at and if they are ready the battle in the Premiership. With the cash injection at Larne they will be preparing for life in the Premiership next season and demanding some success in cup competitions. This is a fixture they are capable of winning in my eyes.
Newry find themselves struggling back in the Premiership and currently sit in a relegation play off place. The Irish Cup will come as a beneficial distraction from their League campaign. Neither side has ever win the Cup, both will be hoping for good run in the competition to boost their seasons.
Championship side Limavady play host to Larne Tech Old Boys this weekend in what could be a tough battle for the North West Club. They are currently second bottom in the Championship and struggling to put any form together. They will be aiming to get a positive result here to try and catapult their season.
Larne Tech Old Boys are currently second in Division 1A of the the Amateur League. They have only played 8 League games this far and have win all 8. Scoring 33 goals in 8 games averaging just over 4 goals a game. Not a record Limavady will want to hear! I am going for the upset in this one and Larne Tech Old Boys to get a result.
43 time winners Linfield play host to Ballyclare at Windsor this weekend. The Blues are now top of the Danske Bank Premiership and do not look like taking their foot off the gas. After their success two years ago in the Irish Cup David Healy will demanding his team produce the goods this year and go all the way!
Ballyclare have have a big task ahead of them at Windsor if they are to get a result. They are struggling for consistent form in the Championship and currently sit eighth. The ‘Comrades’ will also have to put their pre season friendly result this year behind them where Linfield defeated them 7-0. However, they have nothing to loose coming to Windsor Park and should play with freedom.
Another very interesting tie comes at Loughgall this weekend. Loughgall have not win in three games and this has the potential to be an other upset on the cards. Crumlin star currently have win 6/6 games in the amateur premier division and have every chance of getting a result here.
I am going for another upset on the cards here with a Crumlin Star victory.
The Ports host Abbey Villa in their fifth round tie. Portadown will be aiming to push for promotion this year and get themselves back to the Premiership. Portadown have lifted the Irish Cup on three occasions the last being in 2005. The final of 2015 will be well remembered by Portadown supporters when they were controversially beaten 1-0 by Glentoran. Matthew Tipton will be hoping his side can put together a decent cup run this year.
Abbey Villa play their football in Division 1A of the Amateur League. The Millisle side have never reached the quarter finals of the Irish Cup and will be aiming to topple the Ports to reach this next stage.
Strabane make the long journey from the North West to Belfast to face Championship side Knockbreda. The Belfast club are currently ninth in the Championship and were on a poor run of results until they defeated the Welders last weekend. However, I still feel Knockbreda will have to much fire power for the Strabane side.
Strabane have played three games already in the competition to get this far and are deservedly in the fifth round. Strabane play their trade in the NI Intermediate League. This league is based in the North West. Strabane will go to Knockbreda will nothing to fear and I am sure give there all!
These two teams will be very familiar with each other. Both play their football in the Premier Intermediate League where Queens currently sit top of the pile. The last time the two sides met in November it finished in a 1-1 draw.
This is a tough game to call but given Queens current form and league position I am going for a QUB win!