It was the Intermediate Cup last sixteen on Saturday and with holders, Crumlin Star, and last season’s beaten finalists, Queens University, no longer able to participate due to their senior status, the competition was, and still is, wide open.
In my opinion, the game of the day took place at New Grosvenor were a St James’ Swifts side currently sitting second in the Ballymena and Provincial Intermediate League (BPIL) travelled to take on Premier Intermediate League (PIL) side Lisburn Distillery. It’s been a stop-start season for the home side but they went into the game on the back of a 3-0 win over Banbridge Town in this last round of this competition and a 1-1 draw in the league against Limavady, a game some Whites fans felt they were unlucky not to win.
Distillery went into the game with a number of players missing either due to injury, suspension or being cup-tied, while Kevin Braniff was cup-tied for the Swifts having played for Distillery against Glebe earlier in the season. Former Distillery and Cliftonville player, Ryan Catney, started for the Swifts in the centre of the pitch.
It would have been a pity to have been late to this game as Matthew Rooney put the home side ahead in the 2nd minute only for the visitors to equalise three minutes later through Eugene Gallagher. Other than that very little happened in the first half and during the half-time break Storm Ciara really began to hit and the conditions were very difficult throughout the second half. James Wright restored the Whites lead from the penalty spot only for Chris Begley to equalise against his former club when the ball flew straight into the back of Jonah Nicholl’s goal from a corner. The winner came just moments later through Sean Donnelly and St James’ were able to hold on to make it into the quarter-finals.
Elsewhere another PIL side in the shape of Stephen Uprichard’s Dollingstown side made it safely into the quarters, though they needed penalties to see off Northern Amateur Football League (NAFL) Premier Division side, Crumlin United. The Dollybirds went ahead twice in the game through Gary Liggett and Keith Johnston but were pegged back both times, the dreaded shootout finished 4-3 in favour of Dollingstown.
Newington faced a long trek to County Fermanagh to take on Fivemiletown United and with 15 minutes to go it looked like it was going to be an even longer trip home as they trailed by two goals to one but Daniel White scored with less than ten minutes on the clock to send the game to extra time and a further goal from Ethan Devine saw the Belfast side through.
The only all PIL fixture of the round took place between Moyola Park and Limavady and it was Mervyn Pattison’s Moyola side who came out as the convincing winners, thanks to goals from Tiarnan Rafferty, Daniel McIlhatton and a Chris Dowie brace.
Unfortunately for Markethill Swifts, their great run in the competition, came to an end as Dromara Village proved too much for them in a 5-2 defeat. It included a win over PIL side and last season’s beaten semi-finalists Portstewart and a win over Carrick Rangers reserve side.
Here are the full results from Saturday’s Intermediate Cup last sixteen games:-
Lisburn Distillery 2-3 St. James’ Swifts
Belfast Celtic 5-1 Richhill
Crumlin United 2-2 Dollingstown (Dollingstown won 3 – 4 on penalties)
Dromara Village 5-2 Markethill Swifts
Fivemiletown United 2-3 Newington
Immaculata 1-0 Grove United
Moyola Park 4-1 Limavady United
The draw for the quarter-finals has already taken place with the following ties set to take place on Saturday 7th March:-
Dollingstown v Newbuildings United
Moyola Park v Belfast Celtic
Immaculata v Newington
St. James’ Swifts v Dromara Village