A Mark Leckey double helped Ballynure OB to ease in to the final of the McReynolds Cup at the expense of Brantwood.
Further strikes by Ronnie Burns and David Officer plus an own goal gave Gary Burns’ lads an emphatic 5-1 semi-final win at windswept Mossley, even without regulars Barry Penny and Sammy Duff.
The Nure lads drew first blood rather fortuitously in the 20th minute, when Dan Luney headed the ball in to his own net when defending an Andy Forsythe free.
Brants responded with several corners, but were unable to get the ball past keeper Paul Hughes who also dealt capably with a couple of free-kicks.
Nure’s central midfielders Johnny McClurg and Forsythe kept pressing forward and were rewarded in the 43rd minute. Burns ghosted past two defenders before being sandwiched in the box and Leckey doubled the lead from the resultant penalty.
There was no let-up after the break with the north Belfast side mainly on the back foot, but they held out until the 70th minute, when Leckey pounced on a loose ball from a corner and blasted it in to the net from close range.
The introduction of substitutes David Officer, Robert Houston and Simon McGreevy kept the pressure on the locals, who conceded a fourth goal when Burns chested the ball down and skilfully curled the ball in to the far top corner.
Two minutes from time Hughes’ clean sheet was spoiled when Mark Curlett’s attempted clearance flew in to his own net, but right at the death Officer restored his side’s four-goal advantage when his brilliant free-kick from 25 yards cleared the wall and dipped into the bottom corner, leaving the keeper flat-footed.
“This was one of our best performances of the season,” enthused manager Burns. “It all came together today and we could have won by an even greater margin. That’s us in to our first final of the season, but hopefully we have two more to come with semi-finals in the O’Gorman and Crawford cups lined up.
“We have assembled the strongest Ballynure panel for many years and, with four trophies within our grasp, the lads can’t wait for the next match, but there is fierce competition for starting places in the team.”
Ballynure OB: Hughes, M Duff, Leckey, G Curlett, M Curlett; D Higgins, Forsythe, McClurg, McIlroy; R Higgins, Burns. Subs: McAuley, Robinson, Houston, Officer, McGreevy.
Next up: Rathcoole (a) O’Gorman Cup semi-final.