Sky Blues book place in Friday's Irish Cup final

Shaun Oneill

Reporter:

Shaun Oneill

Email:

sport@ballymenaguardian.co.uk

BALLYMENA UNITED ..............1

COLERAINE ...........................1

(1-1 after Extra Time)

United won the penalty shoot-out 3-1

BALLYMENA United are through to the final of the Peaky Blinder Irish Cup.

This afternoon they beat Coleraine after a penalty shoot-out at Windsor Park.

It was 1-1 after extra time - then came the shootout.

On target for the Sky Blues were Andy McGrory, James Knowles and Steven McCullough.

Captain Jim Ervin had his spot kick saved by Chris Johns.

Coleraine’s Stephen Lowry hit the post with his.

Eoin Bradley, whose superb free kick put the Bannsiders ahead in the semi, missed the target.

And Ben Doherty shot his penalty over the bar.

So United are now chasing the Irish Cup - last won by them back in 1989!

They will play either Cliftonville or Glentoran this Friday at Windsor Park.

After the win over high-flying Coleraine United manager David Jeffrey spoke of how they “dug in and dug in and dug in” before seeing off the Bannsiders.

He thanked local side Harryville Homers and Crumlin United for giving them pre-semi games in the build up to their clash with Coleraine.

“And we actually ended both games with penalties. I said you have to look after every single detail. But what really pleased me was that we kept going and going in the second half. We know what it is like to be scored against in the dying embers of a game so we went for broke. I told the players beforehand that this was not going to be an eleven man game, we would be using everybody, we had to because of the fitness levels. We did that tremendously well. On this occasion I am absolutely delighted, so proud of my players and really pleased for this football club,” he said.

Jeffrey said his players had to be mentally prepared for the semi final.

The manager spoke of young striker Kenny Kane, who netted the equaliser to send United into extra time.

Jeffery said Kane’s performances in training impressed - “I am so pleased for him. And I am delighted to be in another Irish Cup final,” he said.

The United boss said United pride themselves in being relentless.

“You have to keep going and going and going. You have got to have the drive, you have got to have the determination, you have got to have the desire. If you do not have any of those things then do not play the game of football. I am so, so pleased and so, so chuffed,” he said.

Jeffrey said they will now sit down and try and plot and see how they are going to go forward.

Meanwhile, eight minutes into the semi Coleraine had the ball in the back of the net!

Ben Doherty sent over a free kick and centre half Stephen O’Donnell powered a free header past United ‘keeper Ross Glendinning.

But the ‘goal’ was ruled out for being offside.

Coleraine threatened again, this time striker Bradley ghosting in at the back post to get a free header on target from a Glackin corner kick which Glendinning touched over.

Dangerman Glackin cut in a dangerous cross from the right with just over a quarter of an hour gone right across the United area, but there were no takers.

United won a free kick three minutes from half time but Tony Kane’s effort went into the arms of ‘keeper Chris Johns.

Ballymena gave away a free kick just outside their area almost on the stroke of half time.

Defender Jonny Addis seemed to clip Doherty. Referee Keith Halliday awarded the free and up stepped Bradley to curl the ball over the wall and into the back of the net.

For Bradley it was his 19th goal against the Sky Blues!

Early in the second half United made a treble substitution.

James Knowles, Andy McGrory and Leroy Millar came on for Ryan Harper, Tony Kane and Jude Winchester.

Coleraine lost influential Glackin, who seemed to injure his shoulder after an accidential collision with ‘keeper Glendinning with just over an hour gone.

Ten minutes from time sub McLaughlin fired a free kick off the post.

Dervock man Kenny Kane replaced Cathair Friel two minutes from the end of normal time.

What a substitution that was to become!

There was seven minutes of added on time at the end of the second half.

In the 94th minute striker Kane tucked away the equaliser to give United a life-line.

The ball was crossed into the box from the right, sub Aaron Burns headed it across goal, and Leroy Millar touched the ball into the path of Kane, who fired it home - 1-1.

In the 97th minute James McLaughlin sent in a well hit shot on target, but Glendinning did well to touch it over the bar.

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