McDaid at the double to spark history bid
Cliftonville 2-1 Dundela
Cliftonville edged past Dundela in a more comfortable fashion than the 2-1 scoreline suggests, but endured a nervy finish after an outrageous own goal.
Ahead through Davy McDaid's brace, the Reds were stunned when striker Martin Murray's 30-yard back-pass left goalkeeper Conor Devlin floundering as the ball found the net.
Home boss Tommy Breslin made eight changes, handing starting debuts to Chris Begley and Michael Tolan. Devlin, who last appeared in January's County Antrim Shield final defeat of Bangor, made his return from injury.
The Reds, aiming to become the first side in history to lift the League Cup in four successive seasons, took their time to get going and it took McDaid's 23rd minute penalty to yield the breakthrough.
The Duns saw three half-decent openings come and go just ahead of the interval.
Jamie Jackson - on as a 12th minute substitute for the injured Stephen Shaw - cleared a Stephen Garrett strike off the goal-line but there was nothing the east Belfast men could do to stop McDaid making it 2-0 with a firm finish early in the second-half.
The deficit was reduced when Murray's long-range back-pass flew past Devlin and into the net.
That gave the Duns hope of a late comeback but, in truth, the Reds were always comfortable.
Meanwhile, Dungannon Swifts made light work of Newington YC in their clash at Seaview, where Alan Teggart's early strike was followed up by Andy Mitchell's double to secure a 3-0 success.
Warrenpoint Town thumped Lisburn Distillery 5-1; Stephen Murray banking a hat-trick in addition to single strikes from Stephen Hughes and Mark McCabe.
CLIFTONVILLE: Devlin, McGovern, Bonner, McDaid, Garrett, Brennan, Catney, Begley, M Murray, Tolan, McMurray. Subs: Lavery (Begley, 76 mins), Curran, McMullan, J Donnelly (McDaid, 62 mins), McNicholl (McMurray, 70 mins).
DUNDELA: Taylor, Thompson, Kerr, Gourley, McClelland, Dornan, Shaw, Irwin, West, Knipe, Neale. Subs: Walker (Gourley, 76 mins), Jackson (Shaw, 12 mins), Jones (Dornan, 60 mins), Bickerstaff, Fox.
Referee: Shane Andrews (Comber).