Jake Corbett celebrates at the final whistle
For the first time a County Down side will contest the final of the SuperCupNI after John Bailie’s premier team defeated Club America in Thursday night’s semi-final.
The 2-0 win at Riada Stadium sets up a meeting with B Italia at Ballymena Showgrounds on Friday, where Down will look to follow County Antrim’s success of 2017, when they won the junior competition.
In a surprisingly comfortable first half, Down contained Club America to their own half for long periods and first threatened on four minutes when keeper Giovanni had to push a header from Jack Conlon over the crossbar.
Adam Carroll briefly posed a threat, when he beat the America offside trap to direct a header goal-wards, but again the goalkeeper was good for the save.
The opening goal came from the penalty spot, following a needless foul on Ethan Wynne right at the edge of the area. The Bangor man picked himself up to clip the ball in off the post and give his side the advantage at half time.
The expected Club America fightback duly commenced in the second half. Juarez Ramon fired a shot from close to 40 yards not far wide of goal on 43 minutes and then missed a golden chance to level two minutes after when he burst through a gap in the Down defence but again put wide of the goal.
Down’s Adam Carroll got sight the Club America goal on ’55 but his first time effort was off target, while at the other end keeper Dylan Stewart was quickly out to the edge of his area to block the advances of Murillo Paul.
Having survived the onslaught, Down doubled their advantage on 61 minutes. Ruari O’Hare, who had been inspirational at the back, got the goal, putting his head to Mal Smith’s out-swinging free kick to dash the hopes of the Mexicans and seal his team’s spot in the Friday night showpiece.
DOWN: Stewart, Smith, O’Hare, Conlon, Glover, Wynne (Teggart 68), Weatherup, Corbett, Gemmell (McVeigh 70), Dinu (Cushnie 68), Carroll (Ferris 58)
Skipper Jake Corbett prepares for kick-off against Club America