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Irish Cup semi-finals: Elliott Morris the penalty hero as Glentoran edge Cliftonville in epic clash after Ballymena United surprise Coleraine

 

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Elliott Morris is set for his sixth Irish Cup final.

Elliott Morris is set for his sixth Irish Cup final.

©INPHO/Brian Little

Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20
Glentoran v Cliftonville - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final
Glentoran's Elliott Morris celebrates   during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20 Glentoran v Cliftonville - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final Glentoran's Elliott Morris celebrates during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

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Penalty hero Elliott Morris celebrates with Jony Frazer and Robbie McDaid.

Penalty hero Elliott Morris celebrates with Jony Frazer and Robbie McDaid.

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Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20
Glentoran v Cliftonville - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final
Glentoran's Robbie McDaid and Cliftonville's Garry Breen during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20 Glentoran v Cliftonville - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final Glentoran's Robbie McDaid and Cliftonville's Garry Breen during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

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Conor McMenamin impressed for Cliftonville.

Conor McMenamin impressed for Cliftonville.

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Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20
Glentoran v Cliftonville - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final
Glentoran's Robbie McDaid puts the ball in off the post beyond the reach of Cliftonville's Richard Brush during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20 Glentoran v Cliftonville - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final Glentoran's Robbie McDaid puts the ball in off the post beyond the reach of Cliftonville's Richard Brush during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

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Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20
Glentoran v Cliftonville - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final
Glentoran's Robbie McDaid celebrates his goal  during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20 Glentoran v Cliftonville - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final Glentoran's Robbie McDaid celebrates his goal during this evening's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

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PACEMAKER BELFAST  27/07/20
Cliftonville  v Glentoran Irish Cup  Semi Final
Cliftonville's  Joe Gormley scores   during this evening's game at The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast on Monday.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/07/20 Cliftonville v Glentoran Irish Cup Semi Final Cliftonville's Joe Gormley scores during this evening's game at The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast on Monday. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Cliftonville take on Glentoran at 8pm.

Cliftonville take on Glentoran at 8pm.

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -27th July 2020
Sadlers's Peaky  Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final, National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 
27/7/2020
Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC
Ballymena United's manager David Jeffrey all smiles  winning a penalty shoot-out against Coleraine.
Mandatory Credit © Brian Little/PressEye

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -27th July 2020 Sadlers's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final, National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 27/7/2020 Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC Ballymena United's manager David Jeffrey all smiles winning a penalty shoot-out against Coleraine. Mandatory Credit © Brian Little/PressEye

©INPHO/Brian Little

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -27th July 2020
Sadlers's Peaky  Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final, National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 
27/7/2020
Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC
Ballymena United's players celebrate with  goal keeper  Ross Glendinning after winning a penalty shoot-out against Coleraine.
Mandatory Credit © Brian Little/PressEye

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -27th July 2020 Sadlers's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final, National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 27/7/2020 Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC Ballymena United's players celebrate with goal keeper Ross Glendinning after winning a penalty shoot-out against Coleraine. Mandatory Credit © Brian Little/PressEye

©INPHO/Brian Little

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -27th July 2020
Sadlers's Peaky  Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final, National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 
27/7/2020
Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC
Ballymena United's players celebrate with  goal keeper  Ross Glendinning after winning a penalty shoot-out against Coleraine.
Mandatory Credit © Brian Little/PressEye

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -27th July 2020 Sadlers's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final, National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 27/7/2020 Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC Ballymena United's players celebrate with goal keeper Ross Glendinning after winning a penalty shoot-out against Coleraine. Mandatory Credit © Brian Little/PressEye

©INPHO/Brian Little

ress Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th July 2020 - 

Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.

Ballymenas Anthony Kane with Coleraines Aaron Traynor

Photo by Jonathan Porter Press Eye.

ress Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th July 2020 - Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Ballymenas Anthony Kane with Coleraines Aaron Traynor Photo by Jonathan Porter Press Eye.

Ballymena captain Jim Ervin (right) delivered a leading display in his side's semi-final victory.

Ballymena captain Jim Ervin (right) delivered a leading display in his side's semi-final victory.

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Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20
Ballymena v Coleraine - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final
Coleraine's Eoin Bradley and Ballymena's Scot Whiteside during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20 Ballymena v Coleraine - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final Coleraine's Eoin Bradley and Ballymena's Scot Whiteside during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

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Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20
Ballymena v Coleraine - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final
Ballymena manager David Jeffrey lets rip  during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20 Ballymena v Coleraine - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final Ballymena manager David Jeffrey lets rip during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

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Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20
Ballymena v Coleraine - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final
Ballymena's Jonathan Addis and Coleraine's Ben Doherty during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20 Ballymena v Coleraine - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final Ballymena's Jonathan Addis and Coleraine's Ben Doherty during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

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Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20
Ballymena v Coleraine - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final
Ballymena's Jonathan Addis and Coleraine's Ben Doherty during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20 Ballymena v Coleraine - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final Ballymena's Jonathan Addis and Coleraine's Ben Doherty during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

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Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20
Ballymena v Coleraine - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final
Coleraine's Ben Doherty fires in a shot  during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20 Ballymena v Coleraine - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final Coleraine's Ben Doherty fires in a shot during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

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Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20
Ballymena v Coleraine - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final
Coleraine's Jamie Glackin and Ballymena's Ross Glendinning during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast.  Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker Belfast 27-7-20 Ballymena v Coleraine - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final Coleraine's Jamie Glackin and Ballymena's Ross Glendinning during today's game at the National Stadium, Belfast. Photo by David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press

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PACEMAKER BELFAST  27/07/20
Ballymena  v Coleraine Irish Cup  Semi Final
  Coleraine's Eoin Bradley scores   during this evening's game at The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast on Monday.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

PACEMAKER BELFAST 27/07/20 Ballymena v Coleraine Irish Cup Semi Final Coleraine's Eoin Bradley scores during this evening's game at The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park in Belfast on Monday. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -27th July 2020
Sadlers's Peaky  Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final, National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 
27/7/2020
Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC
Ballymena United's Cathair Friel challenged by  Lydon Kane and  Lydon Kane  of Coleraine.
Mandatory Credit © Brian Little/PressEye

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -27th July 2020 Sadlers's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final, National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 27/7/2020 Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC Ballymena United's Cathair Friel challenged by Lydon Kane and Lydon Kane of Coleraine. Mandatory Credit © Brian Little/PressEye

©INPHO/Brian Little

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -27th July 2020
Sadlers's Peaky  Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final, National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 
27/7/2020
Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC
Coleraine manager Oran Kearney 
Mandatory Credit © Brian Little/PressEye

Press Eye-Belfast-Northern Ireland -27th July 2020 Sadlers's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final, National Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast. 27/7/2020 Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC Coleraine manager Oran Kearney Mandatory Credit © Brian Little/PressEye

©INPHO/Brian Little

David Jeffrey wears his mask during the Irish Cup semi-final.

David Jeffrey wears his mask during the Irish Cup semi-final.

©INPHO/Brian Little

ress Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th July 2020 - 

Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.

Ballymena’s Anthony Kane with Coleraine’s Aaron Traynor

Photo by Jonathan Porter Press Eye.

ress Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th July 2020 - Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. Ballymena’s Anthony Kane with Coleraine’s Aaron Traynor Photo by Jonathan Porter Press Eye.

ress Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th July 2020 - 

Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.

BallymenaÕs Ryan Harpur with ColeraineÕs Jamie Glackin(left) and Ben Doherty

Photo by Jonathan Porter Press Eye.

ress Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th July 2020 - Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. BallymenaÕs Ryan Harpur with ColeraineÕs Jamie Glackin(left) and Ben Doherty Photo by Jonathan Porter Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th July 2020 - 

Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park.

ColeraineÕs Eoin Bradley(left) celebrates after scoring to make it 0-1. 

Photo by Jonathan Porter Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th July 2020 - Ballymena United FC v Coleraine FC Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park. ColeraineÕs Eoin Bradley(left) celebrates after scoring to make it 0-1. Photo by Jonathan Porter Press Eye.

Ballymena face derby rivals Coleraine at 4pm.

Ballymena face derby rivals Coleraine at 4pm.

Elliott Morris is set for his sixth Irish Cup final.

Glentoran are through to play Ballymena United in the Irish Cup final thanks to 39-year-old Elliott Morris who proved the penalty shoot-out hero.

It took 18 penalties to separate the Glens and Cliftonville after a barn-storming 120 minutes of football, a 1-1 draw and a mammoth penalty shoot-out. A Patrick McClean own goal had given Cliftonville an early lead before Robbie McDaid's 20th goal of the season levelled for the Glens, to ultimately set up penalties.

Earlier in the day, Kenny Kane's 94th minute leveller helped Ballymena take Coleraine to penalties, after Eoin Bradley looked to have won the goal for the Premiership's second-placed side.

Here's how the games went:

Cliftonville 1-1 Glentoran (Glentoran win 7-6 on penalties)

The Glentoran revolution is gathering pace, writes Steven Beacom.

The east Belfast side will enter Friday's Irish Cup final as heavy favourites after overcoming Cliftonville in a compelling semi-final clash at Windsor Park with veteran goalkeeper Elliott Morris the hero.

Mick McDermott's men won on penalties in an epic contest that had finished 1-1 after extra-time due to a Patrick McClean own goal giving the Reds an early lead prior to a Robbie McDaid equaliser.

Morris, a legend at Glentoran, saved spot-kicks from the outstanding Conor McMenamin and Conor McDermott to help his side to a 7-6 shoot-out success taking them into a final against Ballymena United with a spot in the Europa League as well as Cup glory at stake. The Glens last won the Cup in 2015 and manager McDermott will feel if his side can lift it in 2020 it will be the start of something special for the club who have been heavily invested in by businessman Ali Pour.

As in the opening semi-final there was applause ahead of kick-off to acknowledge the NHS and the battle against all forms of racial discrimination. What was different this time was that all the players took a knee before the start of the match.

It was also noticeable that the Belfast battle began at a much sharper pace than the derby between Ballymena and Coleraine with Glentoran forward Navid Nasseri testing Richard Brush in the opening seconds and then at the other end Patrick McClean doing exceptionally well to clear Chris Curran's drive off the line after fine flank play from McMenamin.

McClean and McMenamin were heavily involved on 16 minutes when the Reds broke the deadlock in comical fashion. McMenamin had enjoyed a splendid season before lockdown and here he was turning it on again tormenting Elvio van Overbeek on the left flank before firing in a wicked cross. How Joe Gormley missed scoring from a couple of yards out beggared belief but it didn't matter as McClean, rushing to clear, slipped and inadvertently ended up putting the ball in his own net.

What a boost for McLaughlin's side and what a blow for the east Belfast team. To their credit they didn't let it have a negative impact and came roaring back in what was a cracking contest.  On the half hour mark, Nasseri was denied an equaliser when Conor McDermott made a superb block. While Cliftonville were playing their attractive passing game the Glens were attacking at pace and causing all sorts of problems to a defence that included Garry Breen with Jamie Harney on the bench.

Originally both Breen and Harney were supposed to be out of the semi-final until arbitration body Sport Resolutions decided they should be allowed to feature, going against an IFA ruling.

Whether supporters of various Irish League sides agreed with the ultimate decision or not they would surely concur with McLaughlin's opinion that only knowing the final outcome on Sunday was highly unsatisfactory and hindered his preparations.

Something else the Cliftonville manager would have been unhappy about was how his side conceded on 36 minutes failing to clear a free-kick from Marcus Kane and when the ball fell to McDaid inside the box he had the space and the composure to produce a slide rule finish in off the post.

The Kane-McDaid double act almost worked again early in the second half but this time McDaid was not his normal clinical self heading wide from his captain's inviting delivery.

Although the tempo had slowed down a little McMenamin and Nasseri were constant threats for their sides with the former stinging the hands of Elliott Morris in the Glentoran goal before with six minutes left McDaid's header hit the post with Brush well beaten after the forward was found courtesy of a lovely pass from the impressive Joe Crowe. Moments later Keith Cowan ought to have won it for the Glens but nodded wide close in after a clever Ciaran O'Connor cross. In a hectic finale to the 90 minutes Ryan Curran blasted wide for the Reds when he looked sure to be the hero.

In extra-time there were more close shaves with Kane's looping header from McClean's free-kick bouncing back off the crossbar and at the other end Gormley smashing over following a sensational run from Ryan Curran who had left defenders in his wake before setting up the club's record goalscorer. Next Morris stopped a powerful Ronan Doherty drive and in the second period McMenamin flashed an effort across goal.

It was thrilling stuff with penalties determining the outcome. For the Glens McDaid, Ruaidhri Donnelly, Crowe, Nasseri, O'Connor, Jonny Frazer and captain Kane hit the net while Brush saved efforts from Cowan and Van Overbeek.

For the Reds the successful takers were Breen, Chris Curran, Gormley, Ronan Doherty, Jamie Harney and Liam Bagnell while  Ryan Curran blasted over bar and McMenamin and McDermott were denied by the evergreen Morris.

It was a match to remember. It's just a pity given the circumstances no one was in the ground to see it.

Ballymena United 1-1 Coleraine (Ballymena win 3-1 on penalties)

Somehow they did it. Against the odds and having been dominated for long periods and losing entering injury time, David Jeffrey and his Ballymena United side found a way to make it into the Irish Cup final by beating Coleraine in a penalty shoot-out, writes Steven Beacom.

Overall, the derby encounter at Windsor Park may have lacked quality, as well as fans, but there was plenty of drama to make up for that and an immense never-say-die spirit from the Sky Blues after a shocking campaign in the Irish Premiership when they finished 10th.

Trailing to a brilliant first-half free-kick from Eoin Bradley, Jeffrey's men could have been forgiven for thinking it just wasn't their season but they kept on fighting and in the 94th minute super-sub Kenny Kane netted from close range to send the tie into extra-time.

With such a late leveller, there was a sense that Ballymena's name was on that first place in the decider and so it proved when Coleraine's penalty takers wilted and United's kept their nerve.

Before the extra 30-minute period, when Oran Kearney was giving words of encouragement to his Coleraine players, television pictures showed striker Bradley relieving himself on the pitch. Blame the water breaks brought in since the return of football! The Bannsiders will see this as a slash and grab raid.

They may have already qualified for Europe due to finishing runners-up in the Premiership and claimed the League Cup but they will be dejected at how things ended.

In contrast, Ballymena are on high and have a final to savour on Friday night and a shot at Europa League qualification and the £250,000 that comes with it. There is also the chance for this United side to become the first from the Showgrounds to lift the Irish Cup since 1989.

Ahead of the first competitive game involving Irish League sides for over four months, Jeffrey gave final messages to his team on the pitch at a ground he knows better than most from his monumental success as player and manager of Linfield.

Jeffrey had been preparing to watch the match from the stand due to a touchline ban but was given a reprieve on Sunday when arbitration body Sport Resolutions overturned an Irish FA decision. It was the same scenario for United player Steven McCullough, whose suspension was quashed which allowed him to play on the left flank.

Before kick-off there was a moment's applause to pay tribute to the NHS for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic and to acknowledge the battle against all forms of racial discrimination, though, unlike the return in English football, none of the players took a knee.

And so it was on to the football. Nothing much seemed to have changed from before Covid-19 halted the game in March with Coleraine, who had left Player of the Season contender Aaron Canning on the bench, the superior outfit.

The Sky Blues were having problems defending set-pieces early on with Stephen O'Donnell finding the net from Ben Doherty's free-kick only to be pulled up for offside and then Ross Glendinning clawed away Bradley's header from a Jamie Glackin corner.

If Bradley was disappointed with himself then he was jumping for joy in first-half injury time with a wonderful free-kick from just outside the box. The former Derry GAA star had come to the party and brought a bottle of brilliance, curling the ball in with pace and power.

In the second period, Coleraine had chances to kill the game but they were wasted with Ballymena's defence hanging in there - one Jonny Addis block was crucial.

Ballymena improved when Jeffrey made a handful of changes but the Bannsiders were still on course until a 94th-minute sucker punch incredibly involving four of the men brought on.

Andy McGrory delivered a cross to the back post, it was flicked back into the danger area by Aaron Burns and touched goalwards by Leroy Millar before Kenny Kane tapped in. Talk about match-changing subs.

Another sub, this time James McLaughlin, almost restored Coleraine's lead in the 97th minute with a long-range effort but Glendinning was equal to it with a fantastic flying stop.

In the County Antrim Shield final earlier in the season, Ballymena had been stoppage-time victims in conceding twice after the 90 minutes to lose 2-1 to Cliftonville. On this occasion, injury time worked for Jeffrey's side and after extra-time they sealed the deal in the shoot-out.

McGrory, James Knowles and McCullough hit the net after Jim Ervin's spot-kick was saved by Chris Johns and with McLaughlin the only successful Coleraine player with Stephen Lowry, Bradley and Ben Doherty all missing, Jeffrey was back in another Irish Cup final.

He won a magnificent seven of them in charge of Linfield. How he would love to deliver one on Friday night for the Sky Blues.

Here are the games as they happened:

Belfast Telegraph