Dungannon Swifts created history by winning their first senior trophy at the National Stadium this evening.
Swifts defeated holders Ballymena United 3-1 with Ryan Mayse grabbing a splendid first half brace before Cormac Burke netted a brilliant third to spark delirious scenes of joy and celebration among the travelling blue and white army.
After defeating Crusaders in a gripping semi-final, Rod McAree’s charges went into the showpiece decider quietly confident of causing an upset and the Stangmore Park heroes duly delivered in spadefuls.
It was Dungannon who roared out of the blocks and with just 11 minutes on the clock skipper Ryan Harpur intelligently nodded a Paul McElroy cross into the path of Mayse to hammer into the roof of the net.
The lead though was short-lived and six minutes later United defender Kyle Owens headed home a Leroy Millar corner.
Those early goals set the tone and both sides had further opportunities before Mayse fired Swifts back in front for a second time.
Glendinning saved the Newtown man’s initial effort after he connected with a Seanan Clucas cross but the ball remained live and the Dungannon midfielder rifled in on the follow up.
Things got even better for Swifts 10 minutes into the second half. Mayse’s cross from the right found Burke on the edge of the box and the striker took one touch before curling beyond the reach of Glendinning.
That stunning strike set Swifts on their way and the Tyrone side – despite the sending off of their skipper Ryan Harpur late on – held on comfortably for an historic cup win.
Cue the mother of all Swifts parties!
Dungannon Swifts: Addis; Hegarty; Armstrong; O’Rourke; Hutchinson; Lowe; Clucas (Wilson 46); Harpur; Burke (Fitzpatrick 82); Mayse (Teggart 75); McElroy.
Subs: Coleman; Campbell.
Ballymena United: Glendinning; Kane; Owens; Ervin; Balmer (McCaffrey 83); Burns (Weir 68); Faulkner (Shevlin 68); Millar; McCloskey; Friel; McMurray.
Subs: Flynn; Quigley.
Referee: T Marshall (Irvinestown)
DUNGANNON Swifts will begin the search for a new manager following the imminent departure of Rodney McAree.
DUNGANNON manager Rodney McAree is the front runner to become the next manager of Coleraine Football Club.