The romance of the cup is alive and well

Queen's have captured the hearts and minds of fans this season
Queen's have captured the hearts and minds of fans this season

The romance of the Irish Cup batted its eyelids and blushed in misty-eyed innocence on Saturday – all thanks to Queen’s University.

The Championship 2 minnows continue to flirt with domestic football’s biggest cup competition.

Saturday’s 3-2 win over Bangor was the latest stellar moment for Peter Thompson’s side.

It has been a fairy tale ride for the students, who now find themselves in the semi-finals of the blue riband competition.

Queen’s have yet to beat Premiership opposition en route to the last four, but they have admirably swatted off the challenges that have been cast their way.

Ties against Lurgan Celtic, Limavady United and Lisburn Distillery were all scaled with aplomb prior to Saturday’s meeting with Championship title hopefuls Bangor.

Many believed their Irish Cup journey would be derailed against Garth Scates’ Seasiders.

But at the Dub Queen’s defied the odds once again to earn a heroic victory.

Their progress has been a enjoyable caveat in this year’s Irish Cup.

Cup competitions can sometimes be anodyne affairs, with the usual suspects meandering their way through the rounds.

But every so often a team comes along that captures the hearts and minds of football fans across the country.

Queen’s have certainly entertained in this year’s Irish Cup.

They have also captured the imagination of rival supporters.

They have earned their place in the last four of the Irish Cup – they have handled the ‘big occasion’ in previous rounds.

The spotlight will fall on Queen’s once again on April 5, and the days leading up to their semi-final clash with Ballymena United.

It’s a massive challenge for the underdogs – but what’s new there, eh?

Thompson’s players should enjoy the occasion, and let the weight of expectation fall on the shoulders of the Sky Blues.

Ballymena’s fans cheered as Saturday’s draw was made at their Showgrounds home.

It was the tie they craved.

The last time the Sky Blues won the Irish Cup was 25 years ago when Paul Hardy’s goal sealed a 1-0 win over Larne at the Oval.

Ironically, it was Hardy – a guest of BBC Radio Ulster – who pulled Queen’s out of the hat during Saturday’s draw.

A positive omen? Who knows.

We should discover more on April 5.