Irish Cup semi-final: Linfield 3-0 Lurgan Celtic

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Linfield's hat-trick hero Aaron Burns

Three goals in the second half by Aaron Burns gave Premiership title contenders Linfield victory over Lurgan Celtic in Saturday's Irish Cup semi-final.

Championship One side Celtic posed David Healy's Blues plenty of problems before Burns netted from close-range in the 60th minute.

Burns scored again on 80 minutes after Stephen Lowry's free-kick near the bye-line set up the chance.

A stoppage-time penalty gave Burns the chance to complete his hat-trick.

It was the midfielder's 23rd goal of the season and came after Lowry was fouled in the area.

Linfield, who have won the cup a record 42 times, will play 2014 winners Glenavon in the final on 7 May. They last clashed in the decider in 1992.

Lurgan Celtic had gone into the semi-final without first-choice goalkeeper Conor McCorry who was suspended and reserve team keeper Jamie McAtavey who had a broken wrist.

Gavin O'Neill took over in goals and was described as outstanding by Celtic boss Colin Malone.

Lurgan Celtic's John Cochrane competes with Linfield opponent Jamie Mulgrew
Lurgan Celtic's John Cochrane competes with Linfield opponent Jamie Mulgrew

Healy's double vision

The Blues last won the cup in 2012 when they lifted it for a third season in a row by beating Crusaders.

Now former Northern Ireland striker Healy, who starred in many memorable matches at Windsor Park, will lead his side out at the international stadium for a major cup final less than seven months after taking over as manager.

Healy's men are still in with as chance of a league and cup double as they are second in the Premiership and five points behind champions Crusaders with five fixtures left.

Matthew Clarke congratulates Linfield's hat-trick hero Aaron Burns
Matthew Clarke congratulates Linfield's hat-trick hero Aaron Burns

What they said

Linfield manager David Healy: "The boys were very professional in the way they went about this game.

"Lurgan Celtic were difficult to play against and caused us problems but we expected that because we had done our homework.

"We are in the showpiece final of the year and that is something to look forward to.

"We are still in there fighting in the league although Crusaders are massive favourites."

Lurgan Celtic boss Colin Malone: "I think we should have had a penalty for a foul on Aaron Haire before half-time.

"But we are at Windsor Park and you don't get too many things down here. I felt it was clear enough that he had been brought down but the referee said he fell over."

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