For the second week in succession 10-man Ballyclare Comrades exited a knockout trophy at the quarter-final stage, losing 3-1 to Armagh City.
Two defining moments settled the issue against their Championship 2 opponents: on the half-hour central defender Chris Getty was dismissed following a high tackle; then seconds after the interval, City netted the crucial goal that secured the 3-1 win.
With the Reds trailing 2-1 at the break City got the vital next goal and the Comrades were left with a mountain to climb.
Striker, Murray, was their main threat, and he delivered twice in the first 16 minutes.
He was gifted the first when Denver Gage’s back-pass was woefully short, and when Paddy Flood raced out his attempted clearance rebounded off Murray into the net.
Soon afterwards he doubled his tally when he was given too much space in the box, and he made no mistake.
Comrades quickly pulled one back in the 21st minute when Chris Trussell netted his 19th of the season from the penalty spot, after Kyle Agnew had been chopped down in full flight.
A stunning, acrobatic save from Morgan denied Gray, and just when Comrades looked like taking charge Getty saw red.
Straight from the restart they were hit with that killer third goal when Keegan finished off a flowing move.
Despite being short-handed Comrades gave a good account of themselves. Another Gray run down the left ended with a pin-point cross, but Trussell’s header was just too high. In the closing stages Gray and Wilkinson came close to setting up a nervy finish, but the Armagh defence held out to book a place in the semi-final of a trophy that has adorned the Dixon Park trophy cabinet on several occasions.
Ballyclare Comrades: Flood; Doherty, Getty, Gage, Buckley; Agnew, McCart, McClurg, Gray; Trussell, Smith. Subs: McGowan for Smith 46, Wilkinson for Doherty 58, Cooper for Buckley 71; not used Simms, Conn.
Match sponsor: WFS Will Freight Services.