Town far from happy with an early entry into Irish Cup

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Banbridge Town have hit out at the IFA after learning last week that their Irish Cup campaign will begin later this month.

Town have been accustomed to joining the competition in the fourth round, just one before the Premiership clubs.

However, after the NI Football League restructure, Town and their fellow Premier Intermediate League sides will join in the first round.

The local club have been drawn away to Limavady United on August 20. That means their league fixture originally scheduled for the same date will have to be moved.

“It (has become) clear that the administrators of the Northen Ireland Football League also had no knowledge of this as they had originally allocated Town a PIL fixture away to Lisburn Distillery on the scheduled date of round one,” said a Town statement.

“It’s a sad indictment of football administration in the province when, at the same time that the national team are rising up the world rankings, the IFA, who are responsible for the national team as well as the Irish Cup, clearly failed to liaise with the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL) to prevent such an anomaly taking place.”

When the Leader sent a query to the IFA, their response detailed the reasons behind the changes but didn’t address queries of communication with NIFL.

“We now have 24 senior clubs (previously 12) and these clubs will all now enter the competition at round five,” said the IFA statement.

“We’ve done away with the round four entry level and the new PIL clubs will now enter the competition in round one, at the same time as the other intermediate clubs.”

Town, however, are far from happy at the longer road to round five.

“As the competition stands,” said their statement, “only eight teams from the PIL and the Regional Intermediate Leagues such as the Mid-Ulster and the NAFL will make it through to the January Cup fest.”