Ballinamallard 0 Crusaders 3

Ballinamallard’s fairytale run ended in the Irish Cup final at the National Stadium at Windsor Park with a 3-0 defeat to Crusaders.

The Premiership’s side extra quality told on the day with Jordan Owens heading them into a sixth minute lead before goals from Philip Lowry and Ross Clarke early in the second half but the game to bed.

The Mallards to their credit continued to battle to the end but there as no way through as Crusaders comfortably saw out the game to deservedly lift the Irish Cup for a fourth time.

Mallards captain Richard Clarke accepted that Crusaders were thoroughly deserving winners on the day.

“Overall we gave a good account of ourselves but we conceded goals at the start of the first and second half which was crucial. Realistically, they were the better side but it was a great cup run and the fans came out in their droves to support us today,” he said.

Ballinamallard knew that it was crucial that they stayed in the game but disaster was to strike after only six minutes as the Crues swooped for the opening goal of the game. Jordan Owens who was an aerial threat throughout, got on the end of a Billy Joe Burns cross from the right to send a looping header over John Connolly in the Mallards goal.

Crusaders were a real danger from crosses into the box and Jordan Forsythe headed wide from another Burns delivery.

The chances continued to come for the North Belfast outfit as Philip Lowry headed over while Forsythe drilled a free kick just past the post.

A scramble in the box then led to panic around the Mallards goal before the ball was eventually cleared for a corner while Declan Caddell forced a good stop out of Connolly as Crusaders continued to press for a second.

The Mallards did enjoy a better finish to the half with Mattie Smyth having an effort blocked by Philip Lowry before Darragh McBrien’s follow up was blasted wide.

And just before the break Campbell flashed a shot wide from a Nathan Cashel flick on as it remained 1-0 at half time.

The second half though could not have got off to a worse start for the Ducks as a mix up from a corner allowed Lowry to head home in the 47th minute for 2-0.

Crusaders smelled blood at this stage and Heatley was denied by Connolly before they did net a third as Heatley picked out Ross Clarke and the substitute, who had only come on moments earlier, slotted home with his first touch.

The Mallards though continued to battle and Duwayne McManus clipped a free kick narrowly wide and Nathan Cashel had a shot from a good break but this was easily gathered by Crues goalkeeper Harry Doherty.

At the other end, Michael Ruddy was off target while Cashel went close to finding the net for Mallards as he was sent scampering down the left by Campbell. He cut inside and shot but his attempt hit the outside of the post.

That though was as close as it got for the Ferney Park side as Crusaders saw out the remainder of the contest to clinch a 3-0 victory.