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Peter Pan Lyric Theatre

McDaid double ends Star’s Cup hopes

Larne's Lee Lynch with Paul Prigent of Crumlin Star Larne's Lee Lynch with Paul Prigent of Crumlin Star
By David Mohan

Irish Cup Sixth Round

Larne 3
Crumlin Star 1

A SECOND half brace from David McDaid crushed Crumlin Star’s dreams of a place in the last eight of the Irish Cup as runaway Championship One leaders, Larne fought back from a goal down to claim the win at a sunny and cold Inver Park on Saturday.
The Ardoyne side dared to dream when Joe McNeill put them into the lead on 13 minutes, but the hosts drew level on 26 thanks to a Jeff Hughes header and after the break, they went ahead when McDaid converted what looked a harshly awarded penalty after Hughes’ shot hit the arm of Ciaran Hughes and the ex-Cliftonville striker make sure of victory with a late goal.
Star were far from disgraced in this game and their large support could be proud of their team’s efforts on the day as they put it up to the Premiership-bound opposition who were laden with players who have played at the top level including former Reds in McDaid, Martin Donnelly, Tomás Cosgrove and Conor Devlin.
In front of a big crowd that added to the occasion, the visitors opened with confidence and two minutes in, Devlin had to get down to his right to claw Barry McKervey’s free-kick around the post for a corner that led to a shot from Mark Lyons flying wide right.
Larne gradually got to grips with the early pressure and looked to move the ball quickly in order to find gaps in the Star defence.
Their first chance fell to McDaid who didn’t get hold of his shot and it was easily saved by Shane Harrison.
On nine minutes, Martin Donnelly weaved his way past a number of challenges from the right and found himself just yards out, but he elected to place his shot rather than put power behind it with the goal at his mercy and Harrison was able to get down to stop it and get his behind for a corner that was aimed at the back post, but McDaid headed just too high.
Star remained a threat and were always looking to create an opening – something they did to perfection on 13 minutes when brothers, Aidan and Joe McNeill combined to perfection with Aidan playing a perfectly-weighted ball in behind the Larne defence with Joe beating Devlin to the ball and lifted it over the goalkeeper and into the net to send the away support into raptures.
The pressure was now on Larne and they bombarded Star in search for the equaliser.
Patrick McNally – a replacement for the injured Shane McEleney – headed over from Tomás Cosgrove’s shot and Cosgrove then saw his shot at the near post saved.
The hosts were getting closer and on 26 minutes, the goal came when Hughes rose to meet Donnelly’s corner from the right and thundered a header high into the net.
The momentum was with Larne and Donnelly then saw his brilliant free-kick saved onto the post and cleared by Harrison, while on the stroke of half-time, Cosgrove’s curling effort from the edge of the box went just outside the post with the goalkeeper beaten.
With the sides level at the break, it was all to play for and both tried to establish themselves early in the second period.
Chances were thin on the ground with Larne’s Jeff Hughes hooking a 55th minute effort well off target, but they really should have gone ahead on 58 minutes when Cosgrove cut in on the left and rolled a good ball across the face of goal to McNally a couple of yards from goal, but he inexplicably lifted the ball over when it looked much easier to score.
Larne did get their noses in front on 65 minutes from McDaid’s penalty, but Star certainly felt the award was hard as Hughes’ shot at goal seemed to just hit the arm of Burns who had no time to get out of the way, but a spot-kick was the decision of referee Shane Andrews and McDaid made no mistake, firing high into the net.
Star now needed a goal, but they were unable to carve out any clear chances with Larne looking to put the game away and Martin Donnelly had a couple of chances, but couldn’t find the goal his performance deserved.
Instead, it was left to McDaid who swept home in the final minute from Lee Lynch’s cross from the right to seal his side’s passage into the quarter-final.

LARNE: C Devlin, C Ramsey, T Cosgrove, J Hughes, L Lynch, S McEleney (P McNally 14), F Sule, G Kelly, B Tiney (D Scullion 81), M Donnelly (D Tear 90), D McDaid. Goals: J Hughes 26, D McDaid 65 (pen), 90

CRUMLIN STAR: S Harrison, P Prigent, N Hawkins, C Burns, A McNeill, H Halfpenny (C Murphy 75), J McNeill, K Trainor, M Lyons, B McKervey (B O’Neill 65), J Doyle (M Chines 90). Goals: J McNeill 13

REFEREE: Shane Andrews

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