League of Ireland clubs invited to compete in the 2017/18 Irn-Bru Cup

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Rhys Llwyd

Rhys Llwyd

Wednesday, 7 Jun 2017, 10:04

Last year saw two clubs each from the Welsh and Northern Irish leagues participate in the Scottish Irn-Bru Challenge Cup for the first time, and next year two teams from the League of Ireland will also join the competition.

The Scottish Challenge Cup was traditionally contested by members of the Scottish football league system but last season the Challenge Cup was expanded to include the under-20 teams of the twelve Scottish Premiership clubs, four teams each from the Highland League and Lowland League and two teams each from the NIFL Premiership and Welsh Premier League.

Now, following UEFA approval, Bray Wanderers and Sligo Rovers – as the League of Ireland’s highest-ranked non-European participants in 2016 – will join the 2017/18 IRN-BRU Cup along with the Northern Irish and Welsh teams (Crusaders, Linfield, The New Saints and Connah’s Quay) at the Second Round stage.

Dundee Utd are the cup holders after beating St Mirren (2-1) yn in the 2016/17 final.

The New Saints managed to reach the semi final in their first year competing in the Irn-Bru Cup as they knocked out both Forfar Athletic and Livingston before eventually losing out to St Mirren.

Bala Town lost against Alloa Athletic in what was their only appearance in the competition.

The New Saints and Connah’s Quay will represent Wales in the competition this year after finishing in the top two places in the 2016/17 Welsh Premier League season.

The Welsh clubs joined the competition in the fourth round last season, but they face a tougher challenge this year as they will be introduced into the draw at the second round stage.

The first round draw will take place on Tuesday, 27 June.