COLERAINE return to action for the first time in 142 days as they face Ballymena United for a spot in the Irish Cup final tomorrow afternoon (KO 4pm)…
Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Semi-Final
After over four months without a ball being kicked, Coleraine know a positive result against Ballymena United will result in a third Irish Cup final in four years. The Bannsiders have reached this stage of the competition via a 2-0 win against Glenavon, a 3-0 home success against Banbridge Town, before overcoming Larne in a scintillating tussle at Inver Park.
The Sky Blues recorded a 2-0 success against Crumlin Star in the fifth round, before edging out Warrenpoint Town to reach the quarter-final. David Jeffrey’s side would be on their travels for their last eight fixture against Ballinamallard United but goals from Josh Kelly and Tony Kane ensured they would make the hat for the semi-final.
The first meeting this season ended in a 1-1 draw in Ballymena as Coleraine hit the front through James McLaughlin’s close range finish. After McLaughlin went narrowly close to doubling his tally, the game would take a momentum twist as Stephen O’Donnell received a second yellow for a challenge on Aaron Burns. The Sky Blues would make their extra man count before the interval as Scot Whiteside headed home from a corner. Incredibly, Coleraine would end the game with nine men as Adam Mullan was also dismissed for a second bookable offence.
On Boxing Day, Coleraine went in search for all three points and made a perfect start on 10 minutes as Josh Carson found the back of the net with a crisp effort from just outside the box. That advantage would be doubled seven minutes later as Eoin Bradley was denied by the Ballymena goalkeeper, but Jamie Glackin was on hand to guide the ball into an empty net. In a subdued second-half, the only talking point was a red card given to United ‘keeper Jordan Willamson who handled the ball outside the box.
Back in March – the final fixture before the coronavirus pandemic suspended football in Northern Ireland – Coleraine would record a 2-0 success at the Ballymena Showgrounds via a penalty from Stephen Lowry and a second-half header from Aaron Canning.
“Windsor Park is a place we have always had good success and hopefully the players draw on those experiences,” said Kearney.
“We put in a massive effort in the quarter-final to get past Larne and I’ll be reminding the players that with the work they have put in so far, it is important we try to make another bit of history.
“As well as we have done in the League and the League Cup, it was so long ago now that it doesn’t really matter and I don’t think it will have any impact on the semi-final.
“The important thing is that we are ready to go and we treat it as the one-off that it is.”
Supporters are not permitted inside the stadium due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
However, the fixture will be shown live on BBC 2 NI, the Red Button and online.
As ever, those unable to watch the fixture can follow the latest developments via the club’s official Twitter account (@ColeraineFC).