IRISH LEAGUE: Belfast-free semi-finals for the first time since when?

Cliftonville were one of the last two Belfast teams to exit this season's League Cup as Glenavon ousted them in extra-time. Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye

Cliftonville were one of the last two Belfast teams to exit this season's League Cup as Glenavon ousted them in extra-time. Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye

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When was the last time the final four of a major cup final in Northern Ireland were all provincial clubs?

In this season’s NIFL League Cup, there are no Belfast teams in the semi-finals. Crusaders and Cliftonville were the last remaining big city clubs but both exited at the quarter-final stages.

Lyndon Kane netted the all-important penalty as Coleraine ousted the Crues on spot-kicks while the Reds were beaten 3-1 by Glenavon in extra-time on Wednesday night. Ballymena United and Carrick Rangers are the other two teams to make it through.

And that means none of Crusaders, Cliftonville, Glentoran or Linfield will be in the hat for the semi-finals.

The last time that happened in the two major cup competitions (the Irish Cup and the League Cup) was way back in 1989.

Then, too, it was in the League Cup, which was at the time spomsored by Roadferry Freight.

The semi-final draw back then was Glenavon against Ards and Portadown against Newry Town.

Glenavon and Newry Town got through to the final, where the Lurgan Blues won 3-1. Geoff Ferris netted a double and Stevie Conville also scored for Glenavon. Eamon Hawkins was on target for Newry.

With Glenavon again through to a Belfast-free final four this time around, perhaps this is a good omen for Gary Hamilton’s side.

The draw for this year’s semi-finals takes place tomorrow (Saturday) at 2.30pm.