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SuperCupNI: No repeat of 2015 heroics as Antrim and Down taste defeat

By Keith Balie

There was heartbreak for holders Antrim and hopefuls Down as both county sides bowed out of the Premier section of the SuperCup NI in the semi-finals.

Last year's winners Antrim lost 3-1 to Chilean side O'Higgins, while Down were defeated on the same scoreline by Edinburgh club Hibs.

After the defeat in Portstewart, disappointed Down manager John Bailie said: "Hibs getting their second penalty 30 seconds after we equalised led to our heads going down. We were well on top and got our equaliser and then a lapse in concentration gave away a second penalty and Hibs punished us.

"The third goal three or four minutes afterwards summed it up and Hibs could maybe have scored a few more on the break.

"What disappoints us more is that the game was there for the taking. They gave it everything. It's small margins."

Despite the anguish of defeat, Bailie was proud of Down's SuperCup NI performance.

"There's no disappointment in terms of the boys' performances. There will always be individuals who could have played better but as a group I couldn't ask for anything more," he said.

"They dominated for 25 minutes of the second-half and got their equaliser but you can't legislate for two penalties."

Jamie Gullan opened the scoring for Hibs, converting from the spot. Down equalised with a penalty of their own, courtesy of Jack Sharvin.

However, Down were level for less than minute as Hibs were awarded the third penalty of the game. Gullan, again, made no mistake from the spot. Down pushed for an equaliser, only for Callum Donaldson to score a third for Hibs.

At the Riada Stadium, Andy Hunter's Antrim lost their semi-final 3-1 to O'Higgins. That result means there will be no repeat of last year's incredible scenes when Hunter's boys defeated Mexican side Club America in the showpiece final.

Antrim's Ryan Strain and O'Higgins man Matias Sepulveda exchanged goals in the first-half in Ballymoney, only for strikes from Matias Meneses and David Salazar to give the boys from Rancagua a 3-1 win.

O'Higgins will take on Hibs in the final at the Ballymena Showgrounds tonight (8pm).

Eye on the ball: County Antrim’s Darryl McKenna
Eye on the ball: County Antrim’s Darryl McKenna

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