Cliftonville back on track for historic bid

Reds defeat Glentoran ahead of Irish Cup final plus wins for Crusaders, Carrick, Dungannon and Ballymena

Stephen Mallon
Stephen Mallon after opening the scoring for Cliftonville against Glentoran at Solitude on Saturday (Andrew McCarroll/Andrew McCarroll/ Pacemaker Pres)

CLIFTONVILLE got back on track for their bid to lift the Irish Cup for the first time since 1979 with a 2-0 victory over Glentoran at Solitude.

Goals from Stephen Mallon and a Ronan Hale penalty - awarded after a Rory Hale free-kick had been handled - did the trick for the Reds who have suffered a recent slump in form.

Jim Magilton’s side - who are already sure of finishing third - will have a cup final dress rehearsal against title-chasing Linfield at Windsor Park next Saturday night before the glamour showdown between the teams on May 4.

The second-placed Blues host leaders Larne on Monday night three points adrift and needing to win to stay in the title race ahead of Saturday’s final round of matches in which the champions host Coleraine.

Crusaders secured home advantage in the European play-offs with a 2-0 win at the Bannsiders which guaranteed fourth place.

Carrick beat Loughgall 2-1 to stay in pole position for seventh - and a European play-off spot - while Dungannon are also in the running after defeating Glenavon 2-0.

Ballymena hammered now-relegated Newry 4-0 and will face either Bangor, Annagh or Institute in the promotion/relegation play-off.