Glenavon starts the defence of the Tennent’s Irish Cup with the visit of Intermediate League side Portstewart FC (kick off 3pm).  The Seahawks have lost just once this season and manager and former Coleraine and Linfield striker Gary Taylor will be looking to cause a major upset by knocking out the holders.

“We’re top in our division and through to a cup final, so we will go there in good spirits,” Taylor told BBC Sport NI. “We’ve worked on a plan, on how to set up and we’ve nothing to lose, so hopefully we can spring a surprise.”

One to Watch

Glenavon will have to keep an eye on Seahawks winger Ryan Doherty tomorrow.

“I can’t understand why Ryan is still with us – he’s been superb and we think he can play at a higher level,” added Taylor.

Portstewart’s Ryan Doherty and Portadown’s Peter McMahon in Irish Cup 6th Round action from February 2015. Photo Lorcan Doherty /

Gary Hamilton is only too aware of what can happen when facing a tricky tie against a team from a lower league, the memory of crashing out of the cup to the Welders back in February 2015 still fresh in the memory. That defeat came in the 6th Round and followed a narrow escape against Moyola Park in the 5th round when Eoin Bradley scored late to win 2-3 after trailing 2-0 at half time. The squad has certainly learnt from that bad experience and safely disposed of the Welders at the 5th Round stage last season on the way to the final which they won 2-0 against Linfield.

“We will be treating Portstewart with the same respect that we treated Cliftonville and Ballymena in the last two good performances. If they do that then their quality should tell and they should win the game but, as we all know in cup football, as we’ve experienced down at Moyola and the Welders, when you play a team from a lower level, if your attitude’s not right and you think it’s too easy and your too good, then you can be on the wrong end of results. That’s certainly not what we’re looking for tomorrow and that’ll be drummed into the boys before the game, to treat them with respect and play against them like they would against any other team.”

With three key players (Joel Cooper, Rhys Marshall and James Singleton) suspended from Monday and therefore missing for next week’s league match at home to Linfield, Gary will be making a few changes but still fielding a really strong side. “I need to get boys games as we will be missing those players and there are other guys who need game time and certain players will be rested altogether because of next week’s match.”

New signings Aaron Canning and James Gray will get their first starts.

All fifth round games will be played to a finish – with 15 minutes each way extra time and penalties if required.

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