Institute will play Linfield in Irish Cup quarter-finals as Ards protest dismissed

Institute will remain in the Clearer Water Irish Cup following a ruling “not to uphold” Ards’ protest after last weekend’s sixth-round tie.
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A statement released after Monday’s meeting confirmed the following:

"The Irish FA Challenge Cup Committee met this evening and unanimously agreed not to uphold the protest received from Ards FC in relation to their Clearer Water Irish Cup round six tie against Institute on Saturday 3 February 2024.

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“The decision by the Challenge Cup Committee means Institute will play Linfield in the quarter-finals of this season's Irish Cup.”

Mikhail Kennedy’s goal at The Brandywell last weekend settled the match in the favour of Institute over Ards to set up a dream home clash with Linfield. However, Ards lodged a protest with the Irish Football Association.

It's understood teenage midfielder Oisin Devlin - currently on loan at Institute from Larne - was a late addition to the substitutes' bench after originally being omitted from the squad when 'Stute updated the Comet Football Management System, the registration database used by the IFA.

Ards' case centres around Devlin not being named on 'Stute's original team sheet and when assessing the Comet system after the game, club officials claimed manager John Bailie was not informed of the change which breaches the Irish FA Challenge Cup Rule 7C.

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While teams are expected to confirm their line-up via Comet 60 minutes prior to kick-off from round five to the final tie, Rule 7, which was first introduced for the 2023/24 season, states any replacement of players on the team sheet can be made if the match has yet to kick-off.

Mikhail Kennedy scored the winning goal against Ards in the sixth round tie.Mikhail Kennedy scored the winning goal against Ards in the sixth round tie.
Mikhail Kennedy scored the winning goal against Ards in the sixth round tie.

The Challenge Committee agreed with Ards that Institute had broken rule 7C, however the committee concluded that the infringement 'did not affect the eligibility of the player to participate in the match.'

Therefore, Institute's 1-0 win stands and they will face David Healy's Linfield in the next round of the competition.

Plans are already afoot to ensure the visit of the Blues goes ahead on March 2nd, the same day Derry host Dublin at Celtic Park.

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