Crusaders FC won the Northern Irish Cup for the first time in 41 years with a 1-0 victory against Cliftonville FC at Windsor Park.
Forward Mark Dickson scored the only goal after 48 minutes, volleying in impressively after a free-kick from Martin Donnelly was headed back across the penalty area by captain Colin Coates. The triumph secures a place in the second qualifying round of the inaugural UEFA Europa League for the Belfast club, who finished third in the Premier League which concluded last weekend, three places and 12 points above their opponents.
The unmarked Jordan Owens should have volleyed Crusaders ahead early on, while at the other end Cliftonville striker Chris Scannell was denied by goalkeeper Chris Keenan and Crusaders defender Gary Smyth's interception clipped his own crossbar. Defeat in the first all-north Belfast final leaves Cliftonville searching for a first cup triumph in 30 years.
Crusaders, in contrast, after their first final appearance since 1980, can celebrate bringing the famous trophy back to their Seaview home. Manager Stephen Baxter said: "It doesn't get any better than this, does it? It's been a hard road; we've been fighting all season to get into games like this. After getting the goal we had to do some backs-to-the-wall defending but Colin Coates put his head on everything. My players deserve it − they worked so hard."
Dungannon stay up
On Friday, Dungannon Swifts FC preserved their Premier League status by winning the promotion-relegation play-off against Donegal Celtic FC on away goals. Timmy Adamson scored the only goal of the second leg at Stangmore Park, securing a 2-2 aggregate draw after the Tyrone team had lost 2-1 in the first leg away from home.
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