Warrenpoint Town hit for six as Bannsiders book place in final

Cup holders Coleraine will meet Cliftonville following semi-final demolition of Premiership strugglers

Warrenpoint Town hit for six as Bannsiders book place in final

Coleraine'ss hat-trick hero Matthew Shevlin.

By Damian Mullan

Reporter:

By Damian Mullan

Email:

damianmullan@thechronicle.uk.com

COLERAINE will meet Cliftonville in a repeat of the 2018 Irish Cup final in this season's Bet McLean Cup final after the teams won their semi-finals convincingly on Tuesday night.

The Bannsiders demolished Warrenpoint Town 6-1 at the Showgrounds while the Reds saw off Ballymena Utd 3-0 at Solitude.

Defending champions Coleraine and the north Belfast side will meet in the final which is expected to be played some time in March next year.

One-time Ballymena striker Matthew Shevlin was the star man for Oran Kearney's side, scoring his first ever senior hat-trick to ensure there was to be no shock on the Ballycastle Road.

The match was only minutes old when he got on the end of a probing Conor McKendry pass to volley home past Warrenpoint 'keeper Conor Mitchell.

The home side dominated most of the opening half, former Larne winger Conor McKendry causing the visitors all sorts of problems.

Indeed, he doubled his side's lead just before half-time with a trademark strike from distance, moments after Town defender Gavin Peers was dismissed by referee Lee Tavinder after picking up two yellow cards.

Shevlin scored his second and Coleraine's third early in the second half with a textbook header back across goal before Warrenpoint threatened briefly as Kealan Dillon's deflected shot evaded Gareth Deane in the home goal to make it 3-1.

However, any hopes Barry Gray's side had of an unlikely comeback were extinguished as Coleraine went down the field and scored a fourth, Shevlin scoring from the penalty spot after he himself had been fouled.

Bannsiders' boss Oran Kearney emptied his bench in the closing stages and it was one of the five subs, James McLaughlin, who made it 5-1, drilling home a low shot from 12 yards with almost his first touch after coming on as a replacement for Josh Carson.

And it was left to the impressive Jamie Glackin to complete the scoring with arguably the goal of the night, curling a long range effort out of the reach of Mitchell into the bottom corner in front of the adoring Railway End.

So, defending champions Coleraine served notice that they will not give up their trophy easily after producing a thoroughly professional performance against a team which just days earlier had gained a 1-1 draw with Linfield at the National Stadium at Windsor Park.

It was the perfect response to an indifferent week in which they had lost twice, once in controversial circumstances at home to Linfield and once on the road, away at Lurgan.

Confidence will again be high in the group ahead of a busy week which sees them entertain Crusaders on Saturday followed by the visit of Glentoran next Wednesday night.

With the knowledge that a cup final awaits in the New Year.

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