Clearer Water Irish Cup Round Three
Immaculata 0-3 Crumlin Star

THREE second half goals saw Crumlin Star through to the Fourth Round of the Irish Cup as they accounted for Immaculata at Grosvenor Recreation Centre on Saturday.

For long stretches of this game, it seemed that it might be one of those days for Star as a number of chances came and went.

Joe McNeill eventually crashed home the opener on the hour but they had to withstand a good rally from the hosts who went close on a number of occasions themselves.

However, the tie was put to bed late on with substitute David Fearon finishing and then Fra Nolan made up for an earlier penalty that was saved as he made the game safe in stoppage time.

Conditions were far from ideal with the occasional blast of sun interspersed with heavy showers, but the teams made the most of it in what was a very entertaining opening half.

The visitors had the early pressure but the ball just wouldn't fall in those opening five minutes with Joe McNeill seeing a shot deflected out for a corner. This would lead to another, the second of which seeing Barry McKervey, who pulled the strings superbly in midfield, swing in a cross to the back post with Kevin Lynch meeting it with his head, but the ball came off the outside of the post and was cleared.

Substitute David Fearon made it 2-0

Substitute David Fearon made it 2-0

The hosts would have their first chance moments later when James Haughey crossed from the left onto the head of Darren Murray, but the striker couldn't divert it on target from a crouching position.

The Mac gained a little more parity for a spell, but Star were soon back on top and Dylan Snodden did well to recover after his initial missed touch opened the door for Lynch.

The Star striker would then see a 20th minute free-kick from the edge of the box curl just outside the post and he would have an even better chance five minutes later from the penalty spot when Joe McNeill had been tripped, but Ruairi Murray made a superb save, diving to his right.

Immaculata settled after this again and they would carve out another big opportunity themselves when Haughey skipped past Aidan McNeill on the right and sent in a perfect cross onto the head of Murray, but he  didn't make a full connection as it was well off target.

Murray would depart before the break with what looked like a hamstring injury, while at the other end, Lynch was well off-target with a shot as the teams went in at the half scoreless.

Star began the second half brightly with Aidan McNeill swinging in a couple of excellent crosses, the first met by the head of Noel Halfpenny but his effort was too high, while the other was begging to be turned in but there were no takers.

The high pace of the game continued as both sides looked to get the ball down and play. Joe McNeill was exerting more of an influence and he sent a good ball out to Sam McBurney whose cross was glanced just wide by Fra Nolan.

The goal would come and it arrived on 60 minutes as Stephen Smyth nipped in to put himself away on the right and he rolled a low cross into the danger area with McNeill following in to smash low past Murray.

Immaculata responded well and had a few chances in quick succession with Padraig Adams lofting in a ball from deep and while Brendan Shannon got up to glance past Ciaran McNeill, the ball was hooked clear. 

Seconds later, McNeill made a good save from a Haughey effort out on the left and from the resulting corner, Ben McCaul rose to produce a thundering header from Shannon's cross, but the ball was cleared off the line.

Kevin Lynch dinks home the third

Kevin Lynch dinks home the third

They would have another big chance on 76 minutes as Brian Kennedy slid in Haughey on the left to loft over McNeill and although it was going the wrong side of the post, Ben McCaul read it but outstretched was inches from turning it home.

Nolan headed over at the other end moments later as there was a sense there were still goals in it, but they would come for the visitors.

Just one minute after his introduction, David Fearon made his first touch a good one as he slid in to finish at the near post from Kevin Lynch's low ball and then in stoppage time, a ball forward from fear went all the way through to Lynch who finally got his goal, finishing brilliantly with a little dink over Murray to wrap up victory for Crumlin Star who are now one win away from a potential glamour tie in January.

Willowbank are also through as Christopher Heaney struck in the 90th minute to seal a 1-0 win over Moyola Park, while Derriaghy CC were 4-1 winners over Aquinas.

IMMACULATA: R Murray, D Bellew, D Snoddan, Brian McCaul, P Adams (C Murray 76), L Brady, Ben McCaul, D Murray (C Slane 43), J Haughey, B Shannon.

CRUMLIN STAR: C McNeill, S McBurney, A McNeill, N Hawkins, A Lillis, J McNeill, N Halfpenny, S Smyth (C Mullan 90+1), K Lynch, F Nolan (D Fearon 86), B McKervey (B O'Neill 66).
Goals: J McNeill 60, D Fearon 87, K Lynch 90+1

REFEREE: Simon Bickerstaff