On Saturday 6th January 2024 Glenavon begins its Clearer Water Irish Cup campaign against Championship club Knockbreda at Breda Park in Belfast’s Castlereagh hills. Knockbreda F.C. began life as Knockbreda Parish in the Churches’ League. In 1989 it gained admission to the Northern Amateur League. Eight years later it achieved Intermediate status and in 2009 was admitted to the Championship. Last season Knockbreda finished bottom of the Championship but was spared automatic relegation due to the demotion of Warrenpoint Town. Breda defeated Ballymacash Rangers 4-2 over two legs to retain its place in the second tier. This season Knockbreda has again struggled and is currently fourteen points adrift at the bottom of the Championship table with just one win and one draw from 21 fixtures.

Despite Breda’s poor recent record, Glenavon boss Stephen McDonnell is not making any presumptions about the outcome of Saturday’s tie. “Since joining the club, when we have faced lower division opposition, we have always had tough, knife-edge games. There have been no strolls in the park. Much as we would love it to happen, we are not expecting to blow Knockbreda out of the water, score four or five goals and sail through to the next round.”

Nonetheless, Stephen believes that his team has the quality needed to secure a place in the competition’s last sixteen. “Although we are the away team, the onus is on us to take the game to the opposition,” he continued. “We want to play the game in their half and get our attacking players on the ball as much as possible. After that it is a question of whether we can create scoring opportunities and, when we do, take them.”

McDonnell feels that a good run in the Irish Cup can be the catalyst for improved league performances and results. “Doing well in cup competitions lifts everyone,” he said. “We have seen that already by our progress to the semi-final stage of the League Cup. We want to do well in the Irish Cup. Two or three good results would propel us into the later rounds and open the door to a possible final and even European qualification. That can only enhance our prospects of doing well in the bread-and-butter matches.”

Stephen reveals that all five of his pre-Christmas signings are available to play on Saturday. However, young striker Gavin Hodgins has a slight hamstring strain and will probably miss out. New goalkeeper recruit Gareth Deane is also eligible. He will compete for a starting place with Mark Byrne. Robbie Garrett is available again. Unfortunately, Danny Wallace is suspended due to cautions received in last season’s competition.

The match at Breda Park, on Belfast’s Upper Braniel Road, kicks off at 1-30 pm and will be played to a finish with extra time and penalties, if necessary.

Other Glenavon teams in action this weekend:

(Free Admission to all games)

  • Monday 8th January 2024 – Glenavon Reserves v Newry City Reserves, Mourneview Park, 1945 k.o.
  • Friday 5th January 2024 – Glenavon U-18s v Institute U-18s, Lurgan Junior High School 3G, 2000 k.o.
  • Saturday 6th January 2024 – Glenavon U-16s v Crusaders U-16s, Gordon Playing Fields, 1100 k.o.
  • Saturday 6th January 2024 – Glenavon U-15s v Dungannon Swifts U-15s, Lurgan Junior High School 3G, 0930 k.o.