Down thirds won't be contesting this season's Strabane Cup final.

The Malone Park men lost last Wednesday night's crunch semi-final against derby rivals, North Down fifths, at Comber Leisure Centre.

Trevor Lennon's side put up a spirited performance and while the tie was locked at 1-1 for a time, it soon went away from them.

Once again, goalkeeper, David Moreland, had an outstanding game for Down and the margin of defeat would have been greater had it not been for his performance.

The experienced George Harper opened the scoring for the home side when he popped up unmarked in the penalty area in the fourth minute, but Down soon rallied and were back on level terms a short time later.

The experienced Cecil Telford scored the equaliser, but the visitors struggled to produce more clear-cut chances in the game.

Willie Price and Chris Ferguson played well at the heart of the Down defence, with full backs Clifford Lennon and Stephen Cullum pushing forward whenever the opportunity arose.

Gary Brown, James Cunningham, David Ferris and Philip Moreland worked had in the middle of the park trying to provide the ammunition for Philip Brown and Telford up front.

Down were reduced to nine men towards the end of the first half when Cunningham and Brown were both yellow-carded. But Down felt a North Down player should have been red-carded for his involvement in the incident which resulted in the two visiting players being sin-binned.

When the duo returned in the second period, Cunningham almost scored, but his shot was cleared off the line.

Ryan Donaldson pounced to make it 2-1 to North Down within five minutes of the restart as the home side took a firm grip on the game.

Moreland then made a few more saves, while Cunningham was unlucky at the other when he deflected a wicked cross from Brown towards goal, but his effort was cleared.

North Down went 3-1 ahead with the visitors looking to the umpire for help. A shot inside the circle looked high and when it was deflected by Andrew Haire past Moreland at chest height, Down players looked to the umpire, expecting a free out for dangerous play.

But the goal was allowed to stand and while Philip Moreland and Telford then went close with half chances at the other end, North Down held on to their two-goal advantage to book their place in the final.

It also emerged the day after the semi-final that the cup tie was the thirds' final game of the season as last Saturday's Junior 7 tie at home to East Antrim was seconds was cancelled with Down awarded the points.