There will be no local interest in this year’s SuperCupNI Premier final after both Antrim and Down lost their semi-finals, to O’Higgins and Hibernians, respectively.
Last year’s winners Antrim lost 3-1 to Chilean side O’Higgins, while Down lost by the same scoreline to Edinburgh club Hibs.
Disappointed Down manager John Bailie said after the defeat in Portstewart: “Hibs getting their second penalty, 30 seconds after we equalised led to our heads going down.
“We were well on top and got our equaliser and then a lapse in concentration gives away a second penalty and Hibs punished us.
“The third goal three or four minutes after it summed it up and Hibs could maybe have scored a few more on the break.
“What disappoints us more is that the game was there for the taking. They gave it everything. It’s small margins.”
Despite the anguish of defeat, Bailie was proud of Down’s SuperCupNI performance.
“There’s no disappointment in terms of the boys’ performances. There will always be individuals who could have played better but as a group of boys I couldn’t ask for anything more.
“They dominated for 25 minutes of the second half and got their equaliser but you can’t legislate for two penalties.”
At Seahaven, Jamie Gullan opened the scoring for Hibs, converting from the spot. Down equalised with a penalty of their own, courtesy of Jack Sharvin.
However, Down were level for less than minute, when Hibs were awarded the third penalty of the game. Gullan, again, made no mistake from the spot.
Down pushed for an equaliser, only for Callum Donaldson to score a third Hibs goal on the counter attack.
At the Riada Stadium, Andy Hunter’s Antrim side lost their other semi-final 3-1 to Chilean side O’Higgins. That result means there will be no repeat of last year’s incredible scenes when Hunter’s boys defeated Mexican side Club America in the showpiece final.
In Ballymoney last night, County Antrim’s Ryan Strain and O’Higgins man Matias Sepulveda exchanged goals in the first half, only for strikes from Matias Meneses and David Salazar to give the boys from Rancagua a 3-1 win.
Friday’s Premier final will see Chilean side O’Higgins take on Scottish side Hibs at the Ballymena Showgrounds, with kick-off set for 8pm.
The side from South America will start as favourites, but the boys from Edinburgh will be keen to impress.