THEY’VE never had a home tie in the Women’s Premiership League Cup, but Sion Swifts Ladies have booked a second final appearance in five years after accounting for Cliftonville at Solitude on Monday night.
Second half goals from Amy Boyle-Carr, skipper Kendra McMullan and Lauren Brennan ensured Tony McGinley’s charges came back from a goal down to reach the decider for the first time since their maiden Premiership campaign in 2015.
And having defeated trophy holders Linfield at the last eight stage and last season’s runners-up in the semi-finals, both away from home, the Strabane-based side have certainly done it that hard way.
“In five years we’ve been in that competition, we’ve never had a home draw! We’ve never been at home, we’ve been away every single season in every single round!,” observed McGinley.
“We won the Irish Cup in 2017 and this is our second League Cup final – we got there in 2015 when first promoted to the Premiership and we were the first team ever to gain promotion and get to a League Cup final in one season.
“So it’s nice to be back again and it’s a good reward for the girls who have been on the go since January and it’s only May, so we’re not even halfway through the season.
“To have a cup final to look forward to so early in the season will help keep the momentum, keep the buzz going.”
Sion struck the post through McMullan in the first half, but it was Cliftonville who led at half-time when visiting goalkeeper Charlotte Ferguson’s clearance rebounded in off Leontia McVarnock.
The Swifts took command after the break with three unanswered goals in seven second half minutes including a long-range effort from McMullan and strikes from Boyle-Carr and Brennan, who also provided an assist on the night.
McGinley, his coaching staff and the players know, however, that beating both of last year’s finalists will count for nothing if they don’t follow those performances up with a similar effort against Glentoran, who dumped out Crusaders, in the final on June 28.
However, even though his side are currently second in the Premiership, he knows that won’t be easy and with a trip to Lurgan Town in the Irish Cup to come tomorrow night, followed by the visit of reigning Premiership champions, Linfield, on Wednesday, he realises they have a few bridges to cross before the decider.
“We’re in a good place at the moment and are just trying not to get ahead of ourselves,” he explained.
“There was a feeling at the start of the season that it was now or never, so we’re just trying to keep things ticking along and not get too caught up in it.
“We realise there’s an awful lot to do still, so we’re just keeping our feet on the ground.
“Glentoran are a very, very good side, a very big, physical, direct side, who are very good at set pieces.”
The League Cup final will take place on June 28 at a venue to be decided and it will be screened live on the BBC.
FULL STORY IN THURSDAY’S STRABANE CHRONICLE….
*See tomorrow’s Tyrone Herald for an interview with Sion Swifts Ladies’ World Cup-bound goalkeeper, Nicole McClure