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Saturday 30 Mar 2019
RECAP | What happened in Saturday's Tennent's Irish Cup semi-finals?

Ballinamallard United and Crusaders will contest the Tennent's Irish Cup final following victories over Warrenpoint Town and Coleraine on a day dominated by penalties.

For the Mallards it will be a first ever appearance in local football's Blue Riband event while the Crues will be looking to get their hands on the fourth oldest national cup competition in the world for the first time in 11 years.

Ballinamallard United 0-0 Warrenpoint Town
(Ballinamallard United won 5-4 on penalties)

Less than a year after suffering relegation Championship side Ballinamallard United booked their place in the Irish Cup final for the first time in their history thanks to a spot-kick win over Warrenpoint Town at Mourneview Park.

Scoreless after 90 minutes, and again after extra-time, the Mallards were faultless during the penalty shoot-out with keeper John Connolly saving one before the experienced Ryan Campbell stepped up to convert the decisive kick.

There was a quiet, nervous start to the game but once they found their feet both sides had their chances to lead at the break.

On 24 minutes Ciaran O'Connor saw an effort well saved by John Connolly, with the Mallards keeper also dealing with the subsequent corner.

At the other end moments later Chris Kelly had a go, but his shot from Sean McEvoy's cross was tipped over by Jared Thompson.

But undoubtedly the best opportunity in the first half fell to Warrenpoint's Philip Donnelly with a flicked header onto the woodwork at the near post.

Donnelly came close again not long after the break with a half volley that fell just the wrong side of the upright while, with around a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, Lee Duffy found himself through on goal but Connolly used his years of experience to deal with the threat.

Ballinamallard had another big chance of their own in the closing moments of normal time when Nathan Cashel found Josh McIlwaine but the Warrenpoint defence closed ranks to snuff out the danger.

Tired legs took over in extra-time. A Duffy cross from the left wasn't pounced upon in front of goal while Aaron Arkinson saw an effort deflected into the arms of Thompson.

Cashel then almost found a way through, getting on the end of a Campbell volley, but again this ended fruitlessly.

The Mallards had a huge opportunity at the end of extra-time. Richard Clarke sent a free-kick deep into the box, the ball eventually fell for Campbell but Thompson saved well only as far as Kelly who just missed out on getting the touch that would surely have edged it over the line.

And so onto penalties.

Using the ABBA system, Duffy converted first for Warrenpoint with Clarke and Ryan O'Reilly following up for Ballinamallard.

Danny Wallace then made it 2-2 before Matthew Lynch crucially save his attempt saved by Connolly. Advantage Ballinamallard, one they seized with successful spot-kicks from Matthew Smyth and Duwayne McManus.

Warrenpoint couldn't afford to miss, and through O'Connor and Joshua Lynch they didn't. Campbell was up next and, showing great composure despite the pressure, he stepped up to blast home the winning penalty and, in the process, spark scenes of celebration and heartbreak around the ground in equal measure.

Coleraine 0-2 Crusaders
Just as with events in the earlier game penalties proved to the deciding factor as Crusaders defeated outgoing holders Coleraine at The Oval.

The game got off to a nervous, cautious start with both sides restricted to nothing more than a succession of half chances.

Ben Doherty fired over for Coleraine after five minutes while, with a quarter-of-an-hour gone, Paul Heatley sent the ball wide from the edge of the box.

Jordan Owens then saw an effort held by keeper Chris Johns before, around the half-hour mark, Stephen O'Donnell nodded wide from a Jamie Glackin corner.

The deadlock was eventually broken ten minutes into the second half after Heatley jinked his way into the area only to be brought down by Aaron Canning, with David Cushley stepping up to convert.

The Bannsiders responded positively but Eoin Bradley could only look on as his low shot drifted just wide of the post.

Then, in a pivotal moment, Coleraine were initially awarded a penalty of their own when Philip Lowry brought down Glackin but, after consulting with his assistant, referee Tim Marshall changed his decision and ordered a free-kick to be taken instead.

Buoyed by this Crusaders pushed to kill the game off with a number of openings all coming through Owens.

He fired wide when one-on-one with Johns, albeit under pressure from Adam Mullan, then lifted the ball over the top from inside the area soon after before then seeing a close range header kept out by a superb reaction save.

But he did get his goal with four minutes remaining after being knocked over in the area, prompting the referee to award another penalty which Owens clinically despatched beyond Johns to clinch victory for the Crues.