FOOTBALL: Joe Gormley grabs late goal as Cliftonville take Europa League jackpot over Glentoran

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Joe Gormley cancelled his holiday to America for the Europa League play-off final - and fired Cliftonville towards summer continental commitments with a winning goal worth over £200,000 to Cliftonville and heartbreak for Glentoran.

The Glens regrouped with a late surge from 2-0 down to sit level entering the closing minutes.

But Gormley stepped up to add, in financial terms, the most valuable goal of his glittering campaign and seal a 3-2 success.

Glentoran managed to maintain the midweek momentum from a thrilling semi-final success over Linfield by probing and pressing early on at Solitude.

Ross Redman’s dangerous free-kick delivery was headed over by John McGuigan before the game’s first real sight of goal.

Garry Breen’s mishit backpass offered Curtis Allen a glimpse of goal but the Glens striker failed to gain a clean connection on his shot.

There was little question over the quality of contact by Rory Donnelly to break the deadlock on 24 minutes.

The Glentoran camp, however, did call into question the decision by the match officials to allow play to continue despite what appeared contact with the forward’s arm as he controlled the ball.

Donnelly took full advantage of the decision to drill home a superb angled drive beyond Elliott Morris.

Cliftonville came close to a second goal off a counter-attack involving Tomas Cosgrove and Conor McDonald but Redman nipped in to cut short Jay Donnelly’s progress.

Cliftonville did manage to have the ball in the back of the net on 41 minutes - only for referee Keith Kennedy to rule out Gormley’s strike for offside, despite the absence of a flag from his assistant Gareth Eakin.

Cliftonville held the upper hand after the interval, with a McDonald shot saved by Morris then Gormley’s instinctive header proved wide when Chris Curran’s corner-kick created problems in the packed penalty area.

The pressure produced an end product on 63 minutes as Donnelly doubled his afternoon’s tally with a close-range finish to cap Curran’s driving run from midfield and a delightful delivery to the back post off Gormley.

Curran was the architect again moments later of another Cliftonville opening but Morris raced out to block Rory Donnelly before Gormley finished frustrated off the rebound.

Glentoran, having battled back in the semi-final, refused to collapse and kept hope alive by firing home two goals in four minutes to level.

Robbie McDaid’s composed close-range finish cut the gap then the Glens striker was fouled by Garry Breen in the box.

Curtis Allen ignored the high stakes of the situation to slot home a penalty kick on 82 minutes for 2-2.

But Gormley had the final say on 85 minutes as one Rory Donnelly cross was blocked before Curran’s cut-back pass found the penalty-box predator in space.

The domestic game’s top marksman made no mistake to send the Reds into Europe.

CLIFTONVILLE: Neeson, Ives, Breen, Harney, Curran, Bagnall, Gormley, J.Donnelly, Cosgrove, McDonald (Garrett, 58), R.Donnelly.

Subs: McGovern, Dunne, Lavery, Grimes.

GLENTORAN: Morris, Garrett, Addis, Kane, Gordon (Kelly, 71), Redman, Allen, McGuigan (McMahon, 60), Davidson, McDaid, Kerr.

Subs: Ferrin, O’Neill, O’Hanlon.

Referee: Keith Kennedy.