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Wednesday 06 Apr 2022
Armagh City and Rathfriland Rangers through to Intermediate Cup decider

Above: Conor Mullen celebrates scoring Armagh City's extra-time winner. Picture: Gary Hancock.

Armagh City and Rathfriland Rangers will contest this season's McComb's Coach Travel Intermediate Cup final next month following semi-final victories over East Belfast and Limavady United respectively.

The game will be a repeat of last season's Bob Radcliffe Cup final where City emerged victorious by the odd goal in seven and if that, plus Tuesday's semi-final drama, is anything to go by it's sure to be a cracker of an affair.

At Larne's Inver Park, East Belfast - currently second in the NAFL Premier Division - raced into an early lead when, as early as the fourth minute, Danny Purkis fired past Conner Byrne from the edge of the area.

The Eagles, who moved back to the top of the NIFL Premier Intermediate League at the weekend, levelled on 18 minutes courtesy of Marc McConnell's superbly struck free-kick from around 20 yards.

That was how it stayed until midway through the second half when Jonathan Roy restored East Belfast's advantage after he found himself unmarked on the edge of the box to beat the stranded Byrne.

But, just as it looked like that was going to be the winner, up popped Ross Lavery six minutes into added time to send a deflected effort past Paul Cairnduff.

That forced extra-time and, with the wind in their sails, City pushed on to grab the winner through Conor Mullen's side-footed 12-yard strike on 98 minutes.

By contrast, in the other game at Seaview, most of the drama was confined to the opening quarter-of-an-hour or so.

Rathfriland raced into a commanding advantage early on courtesy of Jonathan Scannell's finish past Connor Brown as early as the eighth minute.

And, not content with this, then the NAFL Premier Division outfit strengthened their hold on the game a mere three minutes later through Adam Neale.

To their credit, the Roesiders hit back 120 seconds later through leading scorer Alex Pomeroy only for Rathfriland to almost immediately restore their advantage with Brian Newell's first of the evening.

Unsurprisingly, neither side could maintain that frantic start but Rathfriland held on to their two-goal cushion until just after the hour mark when Newell doubled his tally for the evening.

Back came Limavady on 77 minutes when Pomeroy found the net again but it proved to be too little, too late to prevent Rathfriland reaching the final of the competition for the first time in their history.