BetMcLean Cup


05 Dec 2022
© Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

The BetMcLean Cup reaches the semi-final stage on Tuesday night with a mouth watering couple of games laying in wait.

Immediately catching the eye is a repeat of last season's dramatic decider as holders Cliftonville welcome Coleraine to Solitude while, across the city at the BetMcLean Oval, one of the fiercest rivalries in the game resumes as Glentoran lock horns with Linfield.

Both ties will be played to a finish on the evening with a prize of a place in the March 12th final awaiting the winners.

Cliftonville v. Coleraine
The Bannsiders will no doubt make the journey to north Belfast with revenge very much on their thoughts.

Who can forget how Oran Kearney's side had one hand on the trophy after goals from Matthew Shevlin and Stephen Lowry had given them a strong advantage with just over an hour on the clock?

But Cliftonville were thrown a glimmer of hope when Joe Gormley pulled one back on 74 minutes before, in stoppage time, Paul O'Neill found the net to force extra-time.

O'Neill struck again on 104 minutes to edge the Reds in front for the first time, with Gormley then netting a fourth just three minutes after that.

Curtis Allen did reduce the deficit in the closing moments but it wasn't enough to deny the Reds a famous victory.

This will be the third meeting between the sides so far this season.

An Evan McLaughlin first half double helped Coleraine sweep to a 3-1 victory at The Showgrounds back in August.

Ryan Curran struck for the Reds just before the hour but a Jamie Glackin finish deep into stoppage time saw the Bannsiders secure the points.

Then, most recently and also at The Showgrounds, Cliftonville won 4-2 thanks in no small part to a Rory Hale quick fire brace inside the opening ten minutes.

Conor McKendry found the net for the home side on the stroke of half-time only for Ryan Curran to restore Cliftonville's two-goal lead just after the hour. The sides traded goals in the latter part of the game but it did little to change the outcome.

Paddy McLaughlin's Reds go into the game on the back of a somewhat surprising 4-1 defeat to Ballymena United on Saturday, while Coleraine can point to early goals from Shevlin and McKendry as they brushed Dungannon Swifts aside.

© Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Glentoran v. Linfield
With 17 victories between them it's always a momentous occasion when the two most successful sides in the history of the competition go head-to-head, although the League Cup has been something of a barren wasteland for both in recent years.

Indeed, collectively, Linfield's victory in 2019 has been the only success for either side since Glentoran last lifted the trophy nine years before that. In fact, that Linfield triumph has been the only time they or the Glens have even reached the final in 12 seasons!

Tuesday's game will be also be the third time the sides have met this season so far.

In the Premiership, in October, the Glens recorded a stunning three-goal victory at Windsor Park, opening the scoring early in the second half through Bobby Burns before Danny Purkis bagged a double later in the game.

Then, around a month later, the National Stadium was the venue again in a County Antrim Shield semi-final. The Blues came out on top this time with a goal from Andrew Clarke and Chris Shields coming either side of a James Singleton strike for Mick McDermott's charges.

Linfield limbered up for Tuesday night thanks to a 3-1 win over Carrick Rangers at the weekend. Eetu Vertainen opened the scoring as early as the second minute, struck again before the half-hour mark with Robbie McDaid completing the scoring in stoppage time.

Glentoran, on the other hand, lost by the odd goal in five in an exciting encounter away to Crusaders.

BetMcLean Cup semi-finals
Tuesday 6 December (kick-off 7:45pm)
Cliftonville v. Coleraine - Buy tickets
Glentoran v. Linfield - Buy tickets