BetMcLean Cup


28 Feb 2023
© Pacemaker Press Liam McStravick is congratulated after scoring the third goal against Annagh United

Linfield avoided a succession of banana skins and then swept to a momentous derby win to book their place in the BetMcLean Cup final, their first in four years.

It all began in Mill Meadow and a trip to Premier Intermediate League side Moyola Park.

Niall Quinn opened the scoring after half-an-hour with a volley from Kirk Millar's cross to the back post.

Moyola levelled almost straightaway through Jake McNeill - the only goal David Healy's side have subsequently conceded in the competition this season - but the Blues restored their lead before the break after Millar beat keeper Andrew Findlay to the ball and lobbed it into the net.

Andrew Clarke added a third from close range early in the second half after the home defence failed to clear Quinn's free-kick.

Eetu Vertainen made it 4-1 on 79 minutes with a finish into the corner from Cameron Palmer's pass before Robbie McDaid completed the scoring with a scrambled finish from Ethan Devine's cross.

Next up was a much shorter trip across Belfast to the infamous Hen Run and a clash with Championship opponents Dundela.

McDaid bagged the only goal of the game with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining with an instinctive finish after Joel Cooper's deflected cross fell into his path.

© Pacemaker Press

The Blues welcomed Championship high flyers Annagh United to Windsor Park in the quarter-finals.

Cooper opened the scoring midway through the first half after cutting inside a defender and firing past Joel Little although the Annagh keeper did get a hand to the ball.

That was how it stayed until nine minutes from time when Cooper doubled his tally at the near post after Vertainen had found him from the left.

Then, in the second minute of added time, 17-year-old Liam McStravick marked his Linfield debut with a goal to complete the scoring.

Great rivals Glentoran lay in wait in the last four at the BetMcLean Oval.

Despite a brisk opening to proceedings it took a little while for the first effort of note, and when it came it edged Linfield in front after Sam Roscoe connected with Matthew Clarke's inswinging corner to nod home at the near post.

Cooper thought he had doubled Linfield's lead a few minutes later but his 'goal' was ruled out by the officials.

But Linfield's second did arrive just after the half-hour mark through Vertainen who was played clear and then had to bypass a number of defenders before firing home from around 12 yards out.

Glentoran might have hit back almost immediately but Aaron Wightman was thwarted by a timely Jimmy Callacher block. At the other end Aaron McCarey twice denied the Blues with headers from both Roscoe and Callacher as Linfield chased a third goal.

They eventually did grab number three to put the game to bed with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining through Palmer who directed home a stooping header after McDaid had knocked on a Conor Pepper cross.

Linfield face Coleraine in this season's BetMcLean Cup final on March 12th at the National Football Stadium (kick-off 3pm). Have you got your tickets yet? Buy now at