Cup fever!

Ballymoney United’s young players will try to create history when they take on Newry City in the JJB Sports Irish Cup sixth round this Saturday.

Paul Gaston’s side could be the first Ballymoney United team to make it into the quarter-final if they emerge victorious at the Riada Stadium (kick-off 3pm).

United have enjoyed a fantastic cup run and deservedly beat Steel & Sons Cup winners Bangor to make this stage for the first time in 28 years.

And Gaston is confident his troops can create another cup upset.

He said: ““We are excited, over the moon. It’s a chance to make history. All you want is the team to do well and give 110%.

“The players are looking forward to it. They’ve done brilliantly to get this far and the club as a whole is buzzing - the committee and the whole board.

“It’s the first time in 28 years that we’ve been at this stage so we’ve decided to get a special (match) programme for this.

“If they get through this match then they’ve done something no other Ballymoney team has done.

“To get to the quarter-final of the Irish Cup, even to get to the last 16 has been brilliant for them and they deserve all the praise they can get.”

Newry lie in second spot in the Belfast Telegraph Championship One, and Gaston expects a tough challenge having had them watched.

He said: “They look like a team that do not concede many goals, they seem to have the best (defence) in that league.

“In my eyes they are a Premiership team because they’ve always been a Premiership team and I always played against them when they were in the Premiership.

“We’ve done fantastically to get to this stage, a lot of teams would love to be where we are.”

Gaston has great experience in the Irish Cup, having reached five semi-finals and two finals.

Gaston won the trophy with Coleraine in 2003 but unfortunately missed out on lifting the silverware in the following year’s final.

In preparation for Saturday’s game, he said: “I’ll be telling them just to enjoy it. In my mind the pressure is on Newry, they are a league above us.”

Gaston also hopes a large crowd will come down to the Riada Stadium to cheer on his team.

He said: “It will be great to get the Ballymoney public behind the team. It’s better when you play in front of a crowd, you give that bit extra.

“Newry try to play football and it will be interesting. There won’t be any high balls up in the air

“Our boys are up for it, especially when you are playing at home. And if you get beat by the better team well you can just hold up your hands.

“We’ve a good chance as we’ve a lot of young fit players. I just hope that they do not freeze, but I can’t see it.”

On Saturday Ballymoney drew 1-1 with the PSNI in Belfast. A number of key players were rested or serving suspensions.

However the team was dealt a huge blow when winger Paul Keane suffered a serious knee injury.

See page 54.