Larne book Irish Cup semi-final after edging tense east Antrim derby

Larne resisted a second-half rally by Carrick Rangers at Inver Park last night to book their place in the Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup semi-final.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 11:18 am

A 2-1 victory secured the Inver outfit a last-four clash with Crusaders next Tuesday (May 18) at Mourneview Park, Lurgan.

Ronan Hale’s goal to put the hosts 2-0 ahead in the first-half proved decisive.

Carrick had the misfortune of gifting Larne their opener after the unfortunate Kurtis Forsythe headed into his own net on 23 minutes.

Ronan Hale was on target for Larne in last night's game at Inver Park. Photo Andrew McCarroll/ Pacemaker Press

Shortly afterwards Marty Donnelly crossed for Hale to double the lead.

Larne had further opportunity to take complete control but failed to do so and it was a different encounter after the restart.

Home goalkeeper Conor Devlin had been forced off due to injury before the interval and his replacement Conor Mitchell had a moment to forget on 57 minutes as he spilled Kyle Cherry’s corner for Jordan Gibson to score.

Mitchell redeemed himself with a fine save to deny Reece Glendinning as Larne held on to set up a meeting with Crusaders.

Speaking to the Larne FC media platform afterwards, home manager Tiernan Lynch said: “The objective we went into the game today with was to be in the hat for the semi-final and we achieved that objective.

“In the first-half we were excellent. We played some really good football, we were patient, we got our game plan spot on.

“We knew the second-half would be totally different. Carrick had nothing to lose, they were going to come out and throw the kitchen sink at us and they did exactly that.”

Looking ahead to the semi-final with Crusaders, the Larne boss added: “They are a top, top side. They’ve been in these positions year in, year out. It’s going to be really difficult game. We have to go and enjoy it.”

Before then, Larne make the trip to Windsor Park this Saturday to play Linfield who know that three points will see them retain the Gibson Cup and equal Glasgow Rangers’ world record of 55 league titles.

The Blues, who sit at the summit of the Danske Bank Irish Premiership table on 74 points, come up against opponents still in with a chance of finishing second. Currently fourth in the table on 61 points, Larne can clinch the runners up spot if they can pick up maximum points in their remaining three games and Coleraine and Glentoran slip up in their final three rounds of fixtures.

Speaking to the Larne Times, Linfield chairman Roy McGivern said: “Saturday’s game with Larne at Windsor Park is an opportunity for the club to secure a historic 55th league title so it is a huge occasion for everyone at Linfield.

“We have enjoyed some great games with Larne this season and they undoubtedly have the quality to pose a threat . Our home form has been superb, however, with eight successive league wins and one more on Saturday will kickstart the title celebrations at Windsor Park.”

Meanwhile, second from bottom Carrick must dust themselves down and get ready for Saturday’s Premiership visit to Portadown, who are immediately above them in the league.

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