Ballynure edged out at Seaview by Sirocco Works

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All hopes of Ballynure Old Boys being paired with a Premiership club in the later stages of the Irish Cup vanished when they failed to negotiate the first hurdle against Sirocco Works on Friday night.

This first-round tie was played at Seaview, where the Amateur League side progressed with 2-1 win.

Wingers Paul McIntyre and David Higgins were causing all sorts of problems down the flanks in the first half, but Robert Houston, Michael Duff and Jackie Todd were unable to get the ball past a competent keeper.

At the opposite end Paul Hughes had almost been a spectator, but he had to retrieve the ball from the net in the 40th minute when Sirocco were gifted the opening goal by Paul Leckey, whose back-pass was woefully short and the striker made no mistake.

Buoyed by this success the city side started the second half on top, forcing Hughes to make three smart saves but with Denver Leckey outstanding in midfield, Gary Burns’ (inset)lads began to regain control.

Subs Dan Ellis, Robert Watson and Josh McIlroy all had shots on target, but once again in the 80th minute Sirocco struck in a counterattack by doubling their lead.

Burns responded by going 3-4-3 and it resulted in McIntyre preventing the whitewash when he drilled one into the top corner in the 88th minute.

In additional time Ellis looked like taking the tie in to extra-time when he rounded the keeper, but ran out of space and the ball ended in the side-netting.

“Even without Ricky Higgins and Andy Forsythe we played very well, but I was disappointed with the result,” said Burns. “We could have been three or four up at the break and then at the end we bombarded their goal, but were unable to find that elusive equaliser.”

Ballynure OB: Hughes; Penny, P Leckey, G Curlett, M Curlett; D Higgins, Todd Duff (C), D Leckey; McIntyre, Houston. Subs: Watson, Robinson, Ellis, McIlroy, Stewart.

Ricky Higgins and Andy Forsythe will both be back in action on Saturday when Ballynure begin the defence of their Ballymena Intermediate League title, with a tasty local derby against Rathcoole at Mossley.