Ballyclare Comrades exited the Steel and Sons Cup at the semi-final stage for the second year in a row, losing 3-1 to Amateur League side Immaculata at Seaview on Monday night.
Chris Trussell put Eddie Hill’s men in front midway through the first half, but goals from John Boyce, James Haughey and Jonathan McDonnell put Mac through to the Christmas Day showpiece.
It had all started so well for the Comrades when Trussell slotted home Ricky Higgins’ cut-back after a blunder by Mac keeper Gerard Smith on 23 minutes.
But less than 10 minutes later the west Belfast side were level and there was nothing Reds’ keeper Paddy Flood could do as John Boyce’s bullet header flew into the net.
The momentum began to swing in Kevin Lawlor’s side’s favour and seven minutes before the break James Haughey was well placed to head home when Flood had palmed away Getty’s wayward header.
Trussell had the ball in the net two minutes into the second session but it was ruled out for offside.
Ballyclare were left with it all to do when they were reduced to 10 men just before the hour, with full-back Darren Doherty picking up his second yellow card of the night.
The Reds went all-out in search of an equaliser and Trussell again went close with a header. Higgins then had the ball in the net, but the ref blew for a foul on Smith.
Substitute McDonnell secured Mac’s place in their first-ever Steel and Sons Cup final when he rounded Flood and rolled the ball home for number three on 73 minutes.
Six minutes from the time Smith was at full stretch to deny Trussell who had let fly from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Immaculata: Smith, Prigent, Hughes, Largey, S. McGovern, O’Riordan, Hagney, Dorrian (Begley 75), Murray, Boyce (Adams 81), Haughey (McDonnell 68). Subs not used: B. McGovern, K. McGovern.
Ballyclare Comrades: Flood, Doherty, Buckley, McAlea, Doyle, Getty, Agnew (Gray 55), McCart (McGowan 17), Trussell, Higgins, Simms. Subs not used: Wilkinson, Smith, Forsythe.
Referee: Mark McCurdy.
Ballyclare: Doherty 3, 59 mins, Doyle 67, McAlea 74, Higgins 90.
Immaculata: Boyce 63, S. McGovern 78, Largey 82.
Red cards: Doherty 59.