Irish Cup: Ballinamallard beat Warrenpoint Town in penalty shootout to reach final

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Ballinamallard defeat Warrenpoint Town on penalties to reach their first Irish Cup final.

Ballinamallard United will play in their first Irish Cup final after defeating Warrenpoint Town in a tense penalty shootout at Mourneview Park.

The game remained scoreless through 120 minutes in which chances were at a premium.

Joshua Lynch saw his penalty saved by keeper John Connolly while the Mallards scored all five of their spot-kicks.

Harry McConkey's side, who are fifth in the Championship, will play Coleraine or Crusaders in the final.

The Mallards were relegated from the top tier last season and took several months to adjust to life in a competitive Championship.

However now under McConkey, who took charge following the departure of Gavin Dykes 12 months ago, the Fermanagh side appear to have found their feet and recovered to make the top six before the split.

Ballinamallard deserving winners in cagey affair

The semi-final was not one that will live long in the memory as a classic encounter, with both sides struggling to create clear-cut opportunities.

Point keeper Jared Thompson was called into action just once in the opening half but did well to tip Christopher Kelly's curling effort over the bar.

John Cooney
Veteran goalkeeper John Connolly made the all-important penalty save

At the other end Philip Donnelly could only direct his near post header into the side netting as Stephen McDonnell's side failed to find the fluency that saw them upset title-challenging Ballymena United a week earlier.

The Premiership side did improve after the break and went close to breaking the deadlock through Lee Duffy, whose low effort was well held by Connolly.

After a non-eventful 25 minutes of extra-time Ballinamallard threw caution to the wind in the final five minutes, applying sustained pressure inside the Warrenpoint box.

Thompson was alert to stop Ryan Campbell's drilled effort after a long ball caused havoc in the Point defence but the sides remained locked at 0-0 when the 120 minutes expired.

After Connolly dived low to his left to stop Lynch's spot-kick, Campbell stepped up to fire home the final penalty and spark jubilant scenes among the sizeable travelling Ballinamallard support.

McConkey basks in 'wonderful' feeling

Ballinamallard United manager Harry McConkey

"It is not a nice way to lose it but I tell you what, it is a wonderful feeling when that last one (penalty) goes in.

"We really are now in the Irish Cup final and that, for a wee team from Fermanagh who have had a tough year in the Championship, is a wonderful feeling.

"I can go and enjoy the other game now and we will just see how we go."

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