St Patrick’s Athletic drawn with new boys Ballinamallard in Setanta Cup
Champions Shamrock Rovers to take on Glentoran in quarter-finals
St Patrick’s Athletic player Ger O’Brien pictured with the Setanta Cup at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
St Patrick’s Athletic will start their Setanta Sports Cup campaign at competition new boys Ballinamallard United with the League of Ireland champions due to head north in late February.
The Dubliners will be hoping to improve on this year’s first-round exit and getting Ballinamallard, who were one of two Irish League sides drafted in after Linfield and Cliftonville declined their invitations, may provide an ideal launch pad for Liam Buckley’s men.
“If you look at the spectacular that Rovers put on in the final last season, you certainly want to win it,” said St Patrick’s right back Ger O’Brien yesterday.
“If we’re going to do well, though, we’re going to have to hit the ground running, unlike last year. We weren’t good enough in pre-season then and we weren’t good enough in the early part of the season. Fortunately, though, we kicked on in the league.
“Anyway, it’s good that a new club is getting a chance to play in the competition and we’ll look forward to it, it’s always good to go to a new venue.”
United’s inclusion was only confirmed on Monday, a matter of hours after Linfield and Cliftonville both passed on participating in order to concentrate on the league title race.
Both clubs are said to be open to future involvement but there is already talk of another shift in the calendar for the competition with early to mid summer a possibility for 2015.
In the meantime, Shamrock Rovers will start their defence of the cup at home to Glentoran while Dundalk and Sligo Rovers face Coleraine and Crusaders respectively.
Quarter-final draw: Shamrock Rovers v Glentoran; Crusaders v Sligo Rovers; Dundalk v Coleraine; Ballinamallard United v St Patrick’s Athletic. First legs: Monday, February 24th; Second legs: Monday, March 10th.