Irish Cup semi-finals: Larne defender McEleney suspended

Larne beat Ballymena 2-1 in the quarter-finals
Larne reached the semi-finals by knocking out Premiership side Ballymena

Championship side Larne's hopes of achieving an Irish Cup semi-final upset against Coleraine have been hit by a suspension to defender Shane McEleney.

McEleney must serve a one-match ban for accumulating five yellow cards while fellow defender Caolan Loughran is also suspended as well as cup-tied.

It is a blow to Larne as they aim to repeat their win over Ballymena.

They take on Coleraine at Ballymena and Cliftonville face Championship team Loughgall at the Oval.

Larne may lie in the bottom half of the Championship but they have signed an array of top talent to match the ambition of club owner Kenny Bruce.

Delight for Thomas Stewart after he nets the winner in a 2-1 quarter-final victory over Ballymena
Delight for Thomas Stewart after scoring winner in a 2-1 quarter-final victory over Ballymena

A long list of former Premiership players at Inver Park includes Thomas Stewart, Barry Holland, Martin Donnelly and Conor Devlin.

Stewart won the Irish Cup twice while at Linfield and the striker headed the winning goal in the 2-1 quarter-final success over Ballymena.

"This means so much to a club like Larne who have has not been in the Premiership or this stage of the Irish Cup in a long time," said the 31-year-old who has also had spells with Derry City and Dundalk.

"We will be massive underdogs again but we will give everything and hopefully get a result."

Standing in their way will be a Bannsiders side aiming for a league and cup double and hoping to make amends for a 3-0 defeat by Linfield in last year's decider.

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'This is massive for everyone at Cliftonville' - boss Gray on Irish Cup semi-final

"It's a massive opportunity for us and one we want to grab - we want to get back in the final," said Coleraine manager Oran Kearney.

"We know the calibre of players they have and we're looking forward to what should be an exciting match."

Meanwhile, Loughgall defender Dale Montgomery says they can upset the odds once again by beating beat Cliftonville and reaching the final.

Montgomery scored when Loughgall stunned Glenavon in the quarter-finals and wants a repeat at the Oval.

Dale Montgomery scored the first goal in Loughgall's 2-1 win over Premiership top three team Glenavon
Dale Montgomery scored the first goal in Loughgall's 2-1 win over Premiership top three team Glenavon

"It's massive - my first time in a semi-final after always being knocked out in the early rounds," he said.

"We defeated a Glenavon side who were one of the favourites to win the Irish Cup so why not again on Saturday."

Cliftonville manager Barry Gray said Loughgall's results in the cup demanded respect.

"Beating Loughgall will be no easy task but we are in good shape going into the semi-final," said the Reds boss.

"The players should be confident and ready for what is a massive match for everyone involved with the club.

"It is my job to make sure the players stay focused on the job they need to do and that's simply to get the win which puts us in the final."

There's also league action on Saturday with Warrenpoint Town hoping to edge further away from the relegation zone when they host Dungannon Swifts.

TENNENT'S IRISH CUP SEMI-FINALS - Saturday (15:00 GMT)
CliftonvillevLoughgall (Oval)
ColerainevLarne (Ballymena Showgrounds)
DANSKE BANK PREMIERSHIP - Saturday (15:00)
Live coverage of all three games on Radio Ulster and the BBC Sport website
Warrenpoint TownvDungannon Swifts

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