A STEP INTO THE UNKNOWN

�Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -13th December 2012 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.com''5th Round of the Irish Challenge Cup draw at the Baby Grand in Belfast.Curtis Allen from Coleraine and GIlbert Cromie from Ballyahinch.
�Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -13th December 2012 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.com''5th Round of the Irish Challenge Cup draw at the Baby Grand in Belfast.Curtis Allen from Coleraine and GIlbert Cromie from Ballyahinch.

COLERAINE wil lbe taking a step into the unknown in the fifth round of this season’s Irish Cup after they were paired with Ballynahinch United in last Thursday’s draw.

The juniors may be relatively unknown to many of us, but they will come to The Showgrounds with pedigree in this season’s competition having knocked out the Bannsiders’ neighbours Ballymoney United in the last round.

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney will be keen to avoid another close shave after Larne Tech Old Boys gave him a sweat in the same stage of the competition last term. So he may turn to a family member of one of his current squad for some inside information.

“It’s amazing the path they have took to the fifth round,” Kearney told Times Sport.

“In the third round they beat the team Curtis Allen’s brother plays for. They were one up and Ballynahinch scored two late goals to go through.

“And in the last round they beat our neighbours Ballymoney.

“But it’s a home draw against a team who don’t play in our league so that’s all you can ask for from the draw.

“We have a lot of games to play between now and then but we would love to get a good run in the competition this season.

“We certainly won’t be taking Ballynahinch for granted. It’s our first game in the competition, but they’ve probably played four or five to get here. It’s their cup final it will be a big day out and I’m sure they’ll be coming up here ready to enjoy the experience and I’m sure they’ll play above themselves.

“We have to make sure that we make that effort and our experience against Larne Tech Old Boys last season should be a warning to everybody.”

Current Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill made the draw at the grand Opera House last week and he threw up an interesting tie as Crusaders travel to face Linfield.

Speaking afterwards O’Neill talked about his only appearance in an Irish Cup final in 2003 against some faniliar opposition.

“We (Glentoran) were going for the clean sweep that season but unfortunately we came unstuck against a good Coleraine side,” said O’Neill.

“It was obviously disappointing to lose, but it was made a wee bit easier as it was to one of my former teams.”