Dean Smith ‘delighted’ with Linfield draw as Loughgall extend Irish Cup adventure
In a season limited by the coronavirus pandemic, Loughgall will once again share a stage beyond expectations when Linfield visit Lakeview Park in Tuesday’s Irish Cup quarter-finals.
With the Championship league campaign declared null-and-void as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, entry into the reduced Irish Cup presented Loughgall the only opportunity for competitive football.
What could have been cut short at the first hurdle against Banbridge Town last weekend has now turned into a dream run for the Villagers as victory over Warrenpoint Town set up a clash with the most successful club in Irish Cup history.
Nedas Maciulaitis’ early strike proved decisive on Saturday as Loughgall took the lead then produced a superb team performance to see off top-flight Warrenpoint.
The full reward arrived soon after the final whistle with confirmation of a midweek home clash now against Linfield to extend Loughgall’s campaign to a third competitive outing.
“I’m delighted with the draw - and another home tie is we can ask for at this stage of the competition,” said Smith moments after hearing the draw live on radio surrounded by club officials, coaching staff and players. “Linfield are on course to be crowned league champions as a fantastic club with a wonderful pedigree.
“But, as tough as it’s going to be, we will try to come up with some sort of gameplan to make it competitive.
“Any player or manager will tell you he wants to reach the top and to take on these hurdles is why we play football.
“I’m delighted for the players having that opportunity and experience of going up against some really great opponents.
“It’s disappointing we won’t have the fans in here on Tuesday...but we will give it a go.”
The full Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup quarter-final draw is as follows: Ballymena United v Dergview, Glentoran v Crusaders, Larne v Carrick Rangers, Loughgall v Linfield.
All ties to be played on Tuesday, May 11 (7.45pm kick-off).