Larne Join Fellow Championship Side in Irish Cup Semi-Finals

Irish Cup

The three Tennent’s Irish Cup Quarter Finals were postponed two weeks ago due to the heavy snow in Northern Ireland, so these matches were played on Tuesday night with the semi-final draw taking place afterwards.

Ballymena United 1 Larne 2

Some people with a casual interest in the lower reaches of Irish League football may have glanced at this fixture and backed mid-table Premiership side Ballymena to easily see off bottom-half Championship side Larne, but this is a Larne who side who went into this game unbeaten in fourteen games in all competitions and with some players who would be the envy of many Premiership sides. Ballymena took a first-half lead when Chris Ramsey was adjudged to have handled in the area and Tony Kane dispatched the resulting penalty but Larne were level after 52 minutes when Kyle Owens tried to clear a Martin Donnelly cross but only succeeded in putting the ball past his own keeper. United had chances to restore their lead but Conor McCloskey and Fra McCaffrey were denied by Conor Devlin in goals and the home side would live to regret those missed opportunities when Tommy Stewart headed home a Donnelly cross to ensure Larne join Loughgall in the semi-final draw as one of two Championship teams.

Coleraine 1 Glentoran 0

There’ll be no silverware going to The Oval this season after Glentoran were defeated for the first time since Ronnie McFall took temporary charge of the club following Gary Haveron’s sacking. The game was slow to start but the first shot on target ended up in the net and unfortunately for the Glens it was Darren McAuley who finished past Elliot Morris to score the only goal of the game for Coleraine. Glentoran could have easily been further behind but did settle and had a few chances through Curtis Allen and from set-pieces and Chris Johns made some superb saves late in the half to preserve his sides lead. In the end there were to be no further goals and it was Oran Kearney’s side that are ninety minutes away from consecutive Irish Cup final appearances.

Linfield 0 Cliftonville 1

Last season’s cup winners were dumped out of the competition on Tuesday night by Cliftonville, leaving David Healy’s men with only a European spot to challenge for this year. Kirk Millar went close to giving Linfield an early lead but Cliftonville keeper Brian Neeson was not to be caught out early on, it was also not to be the first time in the first-half Neeson came to his sides rescue as he later denied Kurtis Byrne and Mark Haughey. Cliftonville came more into the game after the break but never really tested Alex Moore in goal, but 11 minutes from time Joe Gormley beat the offside trap to score the only goal of the game and send the Red Army home happy.

Immediately following Tuesday night’s games was the semi-final draw, which seen Cliftonville drawn against Loughgall and Coleraine against Larne with the ties being played on Saturday 31st March.