10 May 2023
© Stephen Hamilton/INPHO Cliftonville's Chris Curran fends off the attention of Coleraine's Andy Scott

Cliftonville and Glentoran will go head-to-head at the BetMcLean Oval on Saturday evening (kick-off 4:30pm) for a place in the UEFA Europa Conference League.

The Reds and Glens booked their place in the decider following semi-final victories over Coleraine and Glenavon respectively.

The Reds seized the early advantage when, after just four minutes, Ryan Curran opened the scoring with an unmarked finish from the edge of the area after Joe Gormley cut the ball back into his path.  

Ronan Doherty doubled Cliftonville's lead on 20 minutes. A Jonny Addis free-kick wasn't properly dealt with by the Coleraine defence with the ball reaching Doherty just outside the area which he duly returned into the net after Gareth Deane let the ball slip from his grasp.  

Chris Gallagher might have added a third midway through the first half via a deflection off Josh Carson but Deane did well to gather the ball.  

Coleraine began their attempt to claw their way back into the game in the latter part of the opening period, threatening through Stephen O'Donnell's header straight at Nathan Gartside from Lee Lynch's corner before Matthew Shevlin saw an effort blocked by Addis.  

Ronan Hale almost settled the game as a contest early in the second half when, following a well worked corner, he played a one-two with Gallagher only to hit the crossbar from an acute angle.  

That may have proved to be a pivotal moment in the game when, on 72 minutes, Shevlin pulled one back for the Bannsiders when he got his head to Carson's pinpoint cross from the left to nod past Gartside.  

Buoyed by this, Coleraine went in search of the equaliser and came close after Jamie Glackin's cross was cleared off the line by Levi Ives.  

Then, with a few minutes remaining, Shevlin was presented with a glorious opportunity to level when, from another Glackin delivery, he sent a header at the back post straight at Gartside.  

He then threatened again, only to send the ball into the side netting in the closing moments of a frantic finale as the Reds held on to book Saturday's date with Glentoran.  

Cliftonville: Gartside, Ives, Addis, Gallagher, C. Curran, R. Curran, Lowe, R. Doherty, Gormley, Turner, Ronan Hale subs G. Doherty, Parkhouse, McDonagh, Traynor, Rocks, Coates, Moore  

Coleraine: Deane, Kane, Jarvis, Lowry, Carson, O'Donnell, Lynch, Glackin, McDermott, Shevlin, Scott subs Gallagher, McKendry, McCrudden, Fyfe, Farren, O'Mahony, Devine

© Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press Conor McMenamin celebrates adding to Glentoran's lead

The Glens romped to a five-goal victory over Glenavon at the BetMcLean Oval, needing just three minutes to race into the lead. 
A Niall McGinn corner caused problems in the visiting defence with Luke McCullough seeing an initial close range effort blocked before nodding home the rebound from barely three yards out. 
Looking to reinforce their early advantage, Conor McMenamin cut inside to test Rory Brown while a McGinn run and cross from the right just missed finding Junior Uzokwe.  

At the other end Jamie Doran's cross was turned away by Aaron McCarey but, on 35 minutes, the home side doubled their lead courtesy of McMenamin's near post finish after beating Sean Ward to Rhys Marshall's cross from the left.  

Terry Devlin might have added a third just before the break with a fierce strike from the edge of the area, but Brown did well to turn the effort away.  

But Glentoran did grab their third on 53 minutes when the unfortunate Robert Garrett turned the ball into his own net after the ball came off him after McMenamin's low cross came off him instead of reaching Uzokwe.  

McMenamin was denied by the woodwork not long after that with an effort off the inside of the post while, at the other end, the post thwarted Michael O'Connor as he attempted to head home from a Peter Campbell corner.  

Much to their frustration, Glenavon hit the woodwork once more with this time Matthew Fitzpatrick's headed from Aaron Rogers' cross coming back of a post.  

But two goals from the Donnelly brothers with around a quarter-of-an-hour remaining settled the affair beyond doubt.  

Jay bagged Glentoran's fourth on 73 minutes with a sweeping finish on the counterattack after McCullough brought the ball from the back to find McMenamin who, in turn, outpaced the defence to tee up Donnelly.  

Then, five minutes after that, Ruaidhri wrapped things up after combining with Jay in a one-two to confidently knock the ball past Brown.  

Glentoran: McCarey, Kane, McCullough, Burns, Marshall, Singleton, Devlin, McMenamin, Wightman, McGinn, Uzokwe subs Webber, McCartan, J. Donnelly, R. Donnelly, Smith, Crowe, Purkis  

Glenavon: Brown, Snoddy, O'Connor, Fitzpatrick, Campbell, Baird, Wallace, Doran, Rogers, Garrett, Ward subs Kerr, Doyle, Norton, Lynch, Prendergast, Atherton, Henderson