Soccer: Clearer Water Irish Cup semi-final
Cliftonville 2 Larne 0

GOALS from Jonny Addis and Ronan Hale booked Cliftonville's place in the Irish Cup final against Linfield as they ended Larne's double dreams at Windsor Park on Saturday.

The North Belfast Reds last won the competition in 1979 and have endured plenty of heartache in finals since - their most recent in 2018 against Coleraine - but will head into the decider on May 4 with a spring in their step following this win.

It wasn't pretty at times, the action cagey for long stretches, but Jim Magilton's men found that bit of cutting edge that ultimately made the difference.

The sides are set to meet again in the league on Tuesday at Inver Park with Larne top of the pile and well ahead of Cliftonville heading down the stretch, but that couldn't be further from Magilton's mind on Saturday as his team booked their place in the final.

"I can't praise the players enough," he told the BBC after.

"To be in an Irish Cup final, I'm emotional actually. I'm so proud of everyone associated with the club, but especially the players and the shift they put in, they were just magnificent.

"We came with a game plan and the players carried it out to the letter. We worked on a set plan on playing on the counter attack because we had that pace up front and we knew if we could expose it in the right areas, we had the chance of winning."

Both teams looked a little nervy early on, keen not to give anything away cheaply. 
Larne had the first sight of goal when Lee Bonis nodded down Andy Ryan, but an inspired David Odumosu was alert to smother.

Chanced were at a premium in the opening third, but things began to open up as Cliftonville's Sean Stewart saw his teasing low ball hacked just about overs own crossbar by Aaron Donnelly.

At the other end, Cricky Gallagher - who signed for Larne from Cliftonville in January - saw his brilliant curling effort matched by an even better acrobatic save by Odumosu.

Larne kept up the pressure and felt they ought to have had a penalty when Ro-Shaun Williams went over under an Addis challenge when trying to get to an Ives pass, but those appeals were waved away.

Just moments later came the opener as from a corner, Ronan Hale and Ben Wilson swapped passed before Hale whipped in a cross where Ives rose to nod home and make it 1-0 after 34 minutes.

It remained the case at the break and the second half would open up further as Larne chased an equaliser. They had a big chance when Williams was off-target with a free header from an Ives corner.

Cliftonville would have their chances too as Odhran Casey missed the target with a header of his own and then Rory Hale was inches wide with an effort from the edge of the box as he got on the end of Chris Curran's delivery.

They had another big chance to settle it as Ferguson saved well from Ronan Hale and although Larne wen't making the same impact on goal, they had a huge opportunity to level it late on when Mark Randall was in on the left but could only find the side netting.

The tie was finally put to bed on 85 minutes as Joe Gormley found Ronan Hale and his defected effort beat Ferguson.

Odumosu denied Larne a lifeline with another stunning save, this time getting his fingertips to Aaron Donnelly's piledriver, while Cliftonville passed up what seemed a certain third as Ronan Hale decided to go it alone with Gormley to his left  and his effort was smothered, while Gormley's follow-up was cleared off the line.

It would matter little as the job was done and Cliftonville can now look ahead to the final against Linfield as they seek to end their long wait for the Irish Cup.

CLIFTONVILLE: Odumosu, Stewart, Addis, Rory Hale (Mallon 90+5), Lowe (Curran 46), Doherty, Burns, Casey, Ronan Hale, Kearney, Wilson (Gormley 77).

LARNE: Ferguson, Donnelly, Randall (Thomson 67), Bonis, Ives (Glynn 73), Bolger, Millar (Sloan 67), Cosgrove, Gallagher, Ryan, Williams.

REFEREE: Christopher Morrison