03 December 2020 08:40
The Inver Park outfit line out in their first final for 15 years tonight when they battle Glentoran for the County Antrim Shield at Seaview. "With the quality of the team we have, the confidence within the squad and all the hard work we put in before the season we felt we would really give it a go this year. "We knew it was a good opportunity to put the first trophy in the cabinet, and hopefully we can do that. "Everyone knew just how big a season it was going to be for the club and everyone wanted to play the part in it. "We had a year's grace last season, but we knew if we prepared right things would fall for us that maybe didn't fall for us last year.
"This match with Larne presents us with a great opportunity to show the strength of our squad," he told the Glentoran website. Larne manager Tiernan Lynch believes glory in tonight's ToalsBet.Com Co Antrim Shield final against Glentoran can spark the beginning of a new era of unprecedented success for the rejuvenated club. However, he appreciates that a first top-flight trophy for Larne since the 1987 Ulster Cup would work wonders for confidence and give the players a strong platform to build on going forward. Ahead of the club's first final in 15 years, Lynch said: "We are at this club to win things. "We have a vision that we want Larne to be challenging at the very top and we want to sit at that top table and go into the latter stages of every competition, and up to now we look like we are going in the right direction but we haven't achieved anything yet." Lynch added: "If we are still in the title hunt come May, and if we get our first final over and grab a bit of silverware in the Shield and reach the latter stages of the League Cup and Irish Cup, by all means we are on that path.
It went straight to penalties and Conor Devlin saved two Glentoran spot-kicks before Jeff Hughes won it for Larne. Glens boss Mick McDermott threatened to pull his team out of the final after slamming the Co Antrim FA for the date of the game and venue. Larne edged the opening stages in north Belfast but they found a well organised and stubborn Glens side in their way. Mark Randall fired well over for Larne with the first opening before Mitchell saw his header well saved by Devlin. There was drama in the dying minutes when a corner hit Hughes before clipping his own crossbar - Glentoran claimed it came off his hand but their penalty appeals were turned down. And so it went to a shootout, with Robbie McDaid putting the Glens in front before Brown saved David McDaid's penalty. Jay Donnelly was denied by Devlin and Martin Donnelly levelled it before Glens duo Gael Bigirimana and Chris Gallagher, and Larne pair Josh Robinson and Fuad Sule, converted from 12 yards. It left it 3-3 before Devlin's save from Crowe gave Hughes the chance to the win it for his hometown team and he hit the bottom corner to spark Larne celebrations. Jeff Hughes dispatched the winning penalty, coolly slotting past Rory Brown to spark scenes of celebration among Tiernan Lynch and his players. It sees Larne claim their first senior trophy in 33 years - their previous success was way back in 1987 when they won the Ulster Cup. A disjointed final always looked destined to go to penalties with neither side earning the right to win it after 90 minutes. The shootout itself ebbed and flowed, with Larne captain Hughes finally dispatching the winning spot-kick to earn a 4-3 win. Marty Donnelly, Josh Robinson and Fuad Sule were also on target for the winners, while Davy McDaid had his opening effort saved. For Glentoran, Robbie McDaid, Gael Bigiramana and Chris Gallagher all scored, while Jay Donnelly and Joe Crowe saw their penalties saved by Conor Devlin.