City started well and in the opening minutes the visiting keeper William Hassan did well to punch away a Shea McGerrigan corner. Just afterwards a good run by McGerrigan won another corner. At the other end Coagh’s first serious attack ended with a through ball to Campbell but recalled goalkeeper Sean Morgan was out of his goal quickly. After 13 minutes Hassan did well to save from Gavin McParland but had no chance with City’s opening goal two minutes later. A high ball was chested down by McParland in front of Ronan O’Hara who placed the ball in front of Andy Moore who shot firmly to the corner of the net.
With 18 minutes gone McParland burst into the penalty area he went down under a tackle from Coagh defender Mark Drennan but referee Gerry Murray correctly waved play on and Coagh cleared the ball to Campbell who raced through with the goal at his mercy but Sean Morgan did brilliantly to block his shot from point blank range. After about half an hour’s play another brilliant run by Shea McGerrigan created a chance for Stephen Murray but his shot took a slight deflection and went out for a corner, leaving the City striker, who hadn’t scored for the club since the tenth minute of the opening day of the season, to wait a little longer.
A Coagh equaliser looked on when Campbell ran between two defenders and shot towards the top corner but Sean Morgan hurled himself across his goal to beat the ball away. William Hassan was called into action at the other end when Ryan McGerrigan sent the ever-dangerous Shea McGerrigan clear, he found Murray who headed the ball down for McParland but the goalkeeper was well out to save. However 35 minutes into the match a long clearance down the right by Dara Noonan was chased by Stephen Murray. He seemed to time his run perfectly and the assistant referee, well up with play, kept her flag down to the disappointment of some Coagh United supporters and Murray chipped the ball perfectly over Hassan to score his long-awaited second City goal of the season to add to the four he notched for Northern Ireland East in the Regions Cup. Hassan and Morgan both made fine saves in the last couple of minutes of the half and City went in with a 2-0 lead.
The first chance of the second half led to scramble in a crowded Coagh goalmouth and when the ball was turned across goal Conor McAnallen rose highest to power a header over Hassan only to see the keeper stretch to make a magnificent save. Coagh United however were a long way from giving up and Sean Morgan made a full length save from Campbell and another from Young. An unusual feature was that both managers made their three substitutions at once but this seemed to have the effect of closing the game down into a midfield battle and no real chances were created. Ronan O’Hara took a knock and had to be carried off leaving City to play out the last five minutes with ten players but Coagh couldn’t get the consolation goal for which they had worked so hard.
So it was that Armagh City had reached the semi-final of the tournament for the second year running and await the result of Saturday’s Lurgan Celtic -v- Loughgall match to see which side with stand in their way to another Boxing Day final.
ARMAGH CITY: Sean Morgan, Luke Grimley, Ryan McGerrigan, Conor McAnallen, Dara Noonan, Ronan O’Hara, Andy Moore yc, Liam Cullen, Stephen Murray, Gavin McParland, Shea McGerrigan subs Gary Boyle, Dale Montgomery and Philip Donnelly 65 mins for Cullen, Grimley and McParland
COAGH UNITED: William Hassan, Mark Taylor, James Ferguson, Mark Drennan, Simon Logan yc, Terence O’Brien, John Henry, Jonathan Young, Aaron Campbell, Lee Smyth, Matthew Kempton subs Aaron Thornton, Stephen Glasgow, Andrew Kelso 76 mins for Logan, Henry and Campbell
Referee: Gerry Murray assistants Lauren Murray, J O’Neill
Thanks to Brian Weir for match report