Published Saturday, 05 April 2014
Ballymena's Allen Jenkins and Queen’s Daniel Culbert during Saturday’s game. (© Pacemaker)
The Sky Blues overcame Queen's University by three goals to nil at the Oval.
The minnows were the fairytale package of this year's tournament, but despite a spirited performance they fell behind to Alan Davidson's wonderful angled drive from the edge of the area in the 35th minute.
In spite of a defiant defensive display, the students showed little in the way of an attacking threat, and fell further behind thanks to Davidson's second goal nine minutes into the second half.
The striker rushed on to a long punt out of defence and beat the offside trap before steering the ball past Queen's keeper Declan Brown.
Mark Kelly added a third late on when he nipped in front of Brown to net from six yards and confirm his side's place in the final, which they last won 25 years ago.
Glenavon's path to the decider wasn't quite so clear-cut as they had to come from behind to finish 3-1 after extra time.
The Crues went ahead when winger Paul Heatley latched on to a long ball forward and cut inside Rhys Marshall before sliding the ball under James McGrath and into the bottom corner.
Glenavon could have levelled from the penalty spot six minutes before half time, when David Magowan hauled down Guy Bates inside the area, but Tiarnán Mulvenna saw his tame spot-kick well saved by Sean O'Neill.
Gary Hamilton's side did find an equaliser in the 66th minute when Ciarán Martyn met Mark Patton's low cross with a first-time shot which flew straight into the top corner.
With neither side capable of a further breakthrough after 90 minutes the game went to extra time, and Crusaders squandered a great chance to retake the lead when Richard Clarke was fouled inside the area.
Chris Morrow stepped up to take the penalty only to see his kick well saved by McGrath.
That was to prove a critical moment in the game as Patton's deflected strike gave Glenavon the lead for the first time six minutes from the end of extra time.
With the Crues committed upfield in search of an equaliser, Glenavon hit them on the counter and Martyn scored the third with a tap-in from a Guy Bates cross to seal their place in the decider on 3 May.
Irish Cup semi-final results:
Ballymena United 3-0 Queen's University (played at The Oval)
Ballymena: Davidson (35, 50), Kelly (89)
Glenavon 3-1 Crusaders (played at Windsor Park)
Glenavon: Martyn (66, 116), Patton (114)
Crusaders: Heatley (14)
© UTV News