Ballyclare Comrades to do battle with Carrick Rangers in ‘biggest’ knock-out competition

Dixon Park will host arguably one of the most intriguing ties of the round in the Samuel Gelston’s Whiskey Irish Cup on Saturday when Ballyclare Comrades entertain Carrick Rangers.

The Danske Bank Premiership outfit go into the derby clash following a well-earned 0-0 draw against Crusaders in the league, while Ballyclare suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to Annagh United in the latest round of Lough 41 NIFL Championship fixtures.

Home manager Paul Harbinson believes his players will not need to be motivated ahead of the game.

Speaking to the Comrades media team, he said: “We have to just look at it that it’s a cup derby and everybody and anybody should be absolutely up for it.

Paul Harbinson. (Pic by Ballyclare Comrades).

“It shouldn’t take any motivation to come and play in a derby here against Carrick.

“It’s a long-standing relationship and rivalry between the two clubs. I would like to think that we go into it with a heart and a fight and fire in our bellies. That is what the Irish Cup is all about.

“We’ll do our homework on Carrick and see what they have been doing well.

“I know they have had a poor run of form, but they have been playing really well in spells. We’ll have a look at it and make sure we try to match it.”

Carrick manager Stuart King is anticipating a tough match on January 8.

Speaking to the Carrick Rangers media team, King said: “We want to do well. It’s the biggest trophy you can win, except for the league.

“It’s an opportunity for us to go and attack the Irish Cup and we’ll prepare as best we can this week and hopefully we can get a result. They are a tough team to play against. There are a lot of good people there and we know it’s not going to be easy.”

Meanwhile, Howard Beverland has left Ballyclare to sign for Portadown and Gary Donnelly and Joe Tully have both left to join Ards. Liam McKenna has also left the club.

Harbinson has welcomed experienced striker Michael Smith (29) to Dixon Park from Dundela.

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