Coleraine expecting tough test against Ballinamallard in Irish Cup

Photograph: Stephen Hamilton
Photograph: Stephen Hamilton
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AN Irish Cup quarter final place is at stake on Saturday when Coleraine welcome Championship One leaders Ballinamallard United to The Showgrounds (3pm kick off).

Coleraine are probably slightly fortunate to be playing this tie, having trailed 2-0 to amateurs Larne Tech Old Boys until the dying minutes of their fifth round tie last month, when goals from Paul Owens, Shane Jennings and Stephen Lowry sealed a remarkable comeback.

Supporters will hope for a less nerve-shredding afternoon this time, but manager Oran Kearney knows that the Championship pace-setters will prove formidable opposition.

“It’s by no means an easy draw,” he said. “I know a fair bit about them from my time managing in the Championship and they are a top quality outfit. They play good football and a lot of their players have Premiership experience with their previous clubs.

“They’re doing really well in the Championship this season and aiming for promotion, so they’ll come here looking to set down a marker of what they could do in the Premiership.”

Coleraine will be back in action for the first time since their victory over Linfield on January 31, following the farcical situation that saw last Saturday’s scheduled fixture at Dungannon called off due to a problem with the floodlights.

Top scorer Curtis Allen is available to play, having served a one-match ban against Linfield, while fellow striker Aaron Boyd, who was named on the bench for the ‘match that never was’ at Stangmore Park, could be in line for his debut.