By Calum Leitch
Toals.com 2017 County Antrim FA Steel and Sons cup final between Newington and Linfield Swifts.
Arguably the best line-up we have seen in recent memory for this years Toals Steel & Sons Quarter Finals.
All 8 sides will believe they can win the Christmas Day showdown at Seaview and amongst the 8 sides we have
former top flight Giants Bangor and Lisburn Distillery. The “New pretenders” St James’s Swifts, the progressive
unbeaten Crumlin Star & East Belfast, as well as defending champs Newington. Glentoran II bring potential top class
to the field and Sirocco Works will revel in their underdog tag.
Whilst this isn’t technically the “tie of the round” by our friends at Co. Antrim FA, it is for me. We have St James’s Swifts who ground-share
with Donegal Celtic and have a long unbeaten run. They have made light work of their opponents in reaching this stage and might be the best-supported team in the competition.
They have a 5-7 year plan to be in the Irish League and have made some eye-catching signings. St James’ have to
be taken very seriously. Newington remain the team to beat though, they are defending champs after beating Linfield Swifts 1-0 in last years final
(who knocked St James’s out in the semis last year) and Newington are still the highest ranked team in the Irish football Pyramid, so until their
mantle is taken, they have to be favourites, but the young pretenders pose a very serious threat.
Very interesting game between perhaps two of the less favoured teams to win the competition, even if it is wide open. Sirocco Works are the lowest ranked
1st team in the football pyramid whilst Glentoran II could be vulnerable due to injuries and suspensions to the current first team. They do have some young
talented players at the club to fill the void but this will be difficult against a side who will fight tooth and bone. Much will depend on what sort of team
Glentoran II can get out but Sirocco Works will be happy with this draw and that will be major incentive to progress and create a minor upset against the young Glens.
The official “tie of the round” should see a landmark day as Bangor celebrates its centenary year with a big day planned around the football club. Bangor have hard to assess form
but did run out commanding winners against an East Belfast side in Shorts (nearby neighbours to East Belfast) and on such a big day they will be putting everything into advancing here.
East Belfast have been improving year on year and represent a really big threat to the Seasiders given they are unbeaten this season and have some talented players at their disposal these days.
Current form makes East Belfast hard to beat, but on a Centenary day, Bangor might just prevail. Another cracking game.
Another tie with another big night planned for the homeside as Crumlin Star also have a function night later on in the evening. They will be looking to maintain their perfect start this season as they have won all league and cup matches and take on the former mighty “Lisburn Distillery” The Whites now compete in the 3rd tier and have made a reasonable start this season. Landing this would be a significant achievement on returning to the former glories.
But they are up against an unbeaten side who have signed some ex Irish League boys as well as always representing formidable opposition in this competition in past years. Can Crumlin
Star continue their 100% record against higher opposition? Collateral form suggests this will be very close!
What Its All About. The Toals.com Co Antrim FA Steel & Sons Cup
Four very hard games to call, should be enthralling watching it unfold, no matter what we will have exciting semi-finals and a showcase final. So let’s see who comes out on top, whoever does will have earnt it!