TENNENTS IRISH CUP: Ballinamallard United beat Warrenpoint Town on penalties to make final

Ballinamallard United celebrate
Ballinamallard United celebrate

Warrenpoint Town 0 Ballinamallard United 0 after extra-time Ballinamallard United win 5-4 on penalties

Ballinamallard United will play in the Tennent’s Irish Cup Final for the very first time in their history after a penalty shoot-out win over Warrenpoint Town at Mourneview Park.

In a tense, if somewhat uninspiring 90 minutes between the sides, neither could find a way to goal. Another 30 minutes of extra-time still couldn’t separate them so to penalties we went.

Played on the ABBA system, Lee Duffy scored the opener for Warrenpoint before Richard Clarke and Ryan O’Reilly converted for the Mallards. Danny Wallace did likewise only for John Connolly to deny Matthew Lynch. Matthew Smyth and Duwayne McManus were on target for the Mallards as were Ciaran O’Connor and Josh Lynch. That left the vastly experienced Ryan Campbell to do the business to the Mallards and he was coolness personified to send Harry McConkey’s men into the decider.

The Mallards began much the brighter of the two sides as they played against the wind in the first period. Harry McConkey’s men found their touch early and kept the ball for large swathes of the half with Warrenpoint only threatening sporadically.

However, the Championship outfit didn’t really trouble Point goalkeeper Jared Thompson in the first quarter of the tie.

It was Warrenpoint who had the first half chance on 17 minutes when Anto Reilly got his head on an Eamonn Scannell free-kick, but he could only direct the ball well wide of John Connolly’s posts.

Ballinamallard were dominating midfield with the vastly experienced duo of captain Richard Clarke and Christopher Kelly dictating the tempo of the game as Stephen McDonnell’s men struggled to string any sort of passing football together.

After Aaron Arkinson had delayed his shot at the other end two minutes later and Connolly had to be alert to clear as Ciaran O’Connor closed in for Warrenpoint, Ballinamallard forced the first save of the half on 25 when Kelly curled in a first-time effort from 18 yards that Thompson just about managed to palm over the bar for a corner.

Less than two minutes later Warrenpoint hit the woodwork when Reilly’s sweeping diagonal ball set Seanna Foster clear down the right and his cross was met by Philip Donnelly, but his header came off the outside of the near post.

While Warrenpoint enjoyed much more possession in the second period, they were struggling to create anything too clear cut.

After Lee Duffy had seen his shot blocked early in the half, Donnelly volleyed wide from 126 yards after Duffy’s initial effort had been blocked into his path on 59 minutes. Veteran Mallards striker Ryan Campbell then tested Thompson with a snapshot on 62 before the chances of the match up until that juncture arrived 14 minutes from time for Warrenpoint.

The industrious O’Connor cut through the middle of the park before poking a neat through ball into the path of Duffy. One-on-one with Connolly, the forward’s low right footed effort was well stopped by the experienced Mallards keeper.

And with neither side able to find the breakthrough in 90 minutes, the tie went to extra-time.

A huge chance arrived for the Championship outfit on 111 minutes when Thompson’s punch dropped to Campbell on the edge of the Warrenpoint penalty area. His volley was palmed out by the keeper where sub Nathan Cashel’s follow-up was blocked and after a bit of pinball in the area, it was eventually hacked clear.

Warrenpoint Town: Thompson, Foster, Wallace, Kelly (Hughes 22), Reilly, Marques, M Lynch, O’Connor, Scannell (Moan 86, Moan 120), Donnelly (McCaffrey 101), Duffy

Subs not used: Turker, J Lynch, McGrandles

Ballinamallard United: Connolly, Taheny, Smyth, O’Reilly, Clarke, Arkinson, Campbell, McCartney (Henderson 104), Kelly (McManus 104), McIlwaine (Warrington 98), McEvoy (Cashel 72)

Subs not used: Harney, Edgar, McCann

Referee: Andrew Davey