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Saturday 05 May 2018
Bannsiders defeat Cliftonville 3-1 to secure trophy

Coleraine are the 2017/18 Tennent's Irish Cup champions!

The Bannsiders got their hands on the famous old trophy following a loud and colourful afternoon at the National Football Stadium to defeat Cliftonville thus ending their truly memorable season with some much deserved silverware.

As might have been expected there was a cautious opening to the game with Cliftonville enjoying more of the ball, looking assured in possession.

But the first real effort fell to Coleraine on eight minutes when Eoin Bradley lifted the ball onto the roof of the net following confusion between Cliftonville keeper Brian Neeson and defender Jamie Harney.

Cliftonville's best moment of the scoreless first half came with just over a quarter-of-an-hour gone through Joe Gormley who blasted an effort into the ground on the edge of the area before it bounced just over the target.

Coleraine suffered the loss of Stephen Dooley following a challenge by Chris Curran midway through the half. He was replaced by Ian Parkhill, and it was Parkhill who twice contributed to the Bannsiders almost finding a way through.

On 36 minutes his ball across the face of goal found Darren McCauley but he couldn't quite make a strong enough connection to make the chance count while, seven minutes after that, another Parkhill ball in similar circumstances reached Jamie McGonigle but, again, the opportunity was squandered.

The second half turned out to be a much more compelling affair.

Coleraine moved in front five minutes in when Ciaron Harkin and Aaron Traynor combined for the latter to clip the ball back from the touchline for Darren McCauley to fire into the far corner beyond the reach of Neeson from just outside the area. It was a superb hit.

But Cliftonville levelled just five minutes later. Gormley touched the ball into the path of Conor McDonald who proceeded to get past the Coleraine defence before laying the ball off for Rory Donnelly to score from a couple of yards out.

However, the Bannsiders regained the advantage with 12 minutes remaining. A low clearance by Chris Johns bypassed the entire Reds defence and was helped on by Bradley for substitute Aaron Burns to beat Neeson.

Chasing the game, Cliftonville came within a whisker of equalising for a second time after Gormley crossed into the box but just as Rory Donnelly was about to pounce the ball was expertly cleared by Adam Mullan.

In a nervy finish, the Reds forced a series of corners but Coleraine keeper Johns showed great composure and calmness under pressure to take command of his area to deal with the continued threat.

Then, with only seconds remaining, Bradley put the game to bed with Coleraine's third, lifting the ball over Neeson from the edge of the area after a Shane Grimes slip let him in.

Cliftonville: Neeson, Ives, Breen, Harney, Curran, Bagnall, Gormley, J. Donnelly, Cosgrove, McDonald, R. Donnelly subs McGovern (not used), Harkin (replaced Breen 85), Garrett (replaced Curran 73), Winchester (not used), Dunne (not used), Lavery (not used), Grimes (replaced Ives 85)

Coleraine: Johns, Mullan, Harkin, McCauley, Bradley, McConaghie, Lyons, O'Donnell, Traynor, McGonigle, Dooley subs Douglas (not used), Ogilby (not used), Smith (replaced McCauley 86), Burns (replaced McGonigle 61), Parkhill (replaced Dooley 32), Kirk (not used), Doherty (not used)