United show no mercy as Swift revival is flattened
Ballymena Utd 5 Dungannon S 2
Ballymena United fought off a gutsy Dungannon Swifts side, who played the majority of the game with 10 men, to book their place in the Europa League play-off final.
Three goals to the good at the break, the Sky Blues had to withstand a spirited fightback by the Swifts but in the end David Jeffrey's side had just too much in their locker.
The home side got off to a dream start with a goal inside the opening three minutes but it was a nightmare for United old boy Stuart Addis.
There seemed to be little danger as Tony Kane decided to try his luck from distance and his shot looked to be a simple matter for Addis only for the ball to take a horrendous kick off the Showgrounds turf, rise up and ricochet off Addis and into the net.
If that wasn't bad enough for Rodney McAree's side, things got worse two minutes later when they were reduced to 10 men.
Andrew Burns lunged in on Leroy Millar as he attempted to clear, leaving the Sky Blues defender writhing on the ground and referee Ian McNabb reached for a straight red card.
Despite being a man down, the Swifts continued to press and could have been level in the 33rd minute if Chris Hegarty had connected properly with Cormac Burke's searching corner but he failed to get the ball on target.
How vital a miss it was became apparent within three minutes as the home side doubled their advantage and this time there was no one to blame, only Joe McKinney to admire.
There looked to be little on as he picked the ball up on the left but he quickly cut in and unleashed an unstoppable curling effort into the top corner.
But the misery hadn't finished for the Tyrone men. Five minutes before the break after having lost the ball to Johnny McMurray, Dougie Wilson compounded the error by pulling the striker down in the box and up stepped Kane to confidently sweep home his 21st goal of an incredible campaign.
To their credit, the Swifts came out fighting at the start of the second period, Ross Glendinning having to pull off two excellent stops in the space of 60 seconds to deny Peter McMahon and Wilson.
McMahon played his part in the Swifts grabbing a lifeline in the 64th minute, directing the ball towards Kris Lowe. His low shot was too strong for Glendinning to keep out.
The three-goal advantage was restored in the 70th minute when a suspiciously offside looking Willie Faulkner played on amid protests and when he squared the ball, McMurray had the simplest of tasks of tapping home.
Still the Swifts wouldn't lie down, and four minutes later it was 4-2 with a goal all of Jamie Glackin's own work, cutting in from the right and directing his shot into the far corner.
United were to have the final say though in the 82nd minute, Addis again only able to help the ball over the line after Kyle Owens got a thumping head onto Kane's corner to book a date with Glenavon on Friday evening at Warden Street, where a bumper European pot of gold awaits the winner.