IRISH LEAGUE: Glenavon secure Europa League spot after victory at Gletoran

Glentoran  Jay Magee   and  Chris Morrow challenge  Glenavon  Eoin Bradley
Glentoran Jay Magee and Chris Morrow challenge Glenavon Eoin Bradley


Glenavon are back in Europe for the third year in a row.

Their win against Glentoran, coupled with Cliftonville’s loss at Windsor Park, means that the Lurgan Blues have secured European qualification through the league with a game to spare - and it means they can relax in next week’s Irish Cup final dress rehearsal against Linfield.

It was a low-key start at the Oval, with the hosts having an opportunity on six minutes when Chris Lavery was fouled on the edge of the box. Curtis Allen’s free kick was easily stopped by Jonathan Tuffey.

Glenavon’s first half chance fell to captain Ciaran Martyn, who volleyed over the bar after Conor Dillon had put the ball into the box.

There were calls for a penalty in both boxes, firstly when Chris Lavery went down and then Martyn went to ground, but on both occasions the Lithuanian officials waved play on.

Former Glenavon defender Jay Magee volleyed over the bar from a corner as the visitors struggled to settle into the game.

Kevin Braniff fired wide when Joel Cooper charged forward, finding Eoin Bradley who teed up the ex-Millwall man for the shot from 20 yards out.

Glenavon could have gone in front twice in as many minutes, firstly when Braniff set Andy Hall off on a run down the right flank. He cut inside and played a low pass for Bradley, but it was cut out by a defender.

Then, Joel Cooper burst down the same side and, with a bit of luck, bounced into the box, getting a shot away which was parried for a corner by Elliott Morris.

Glenavon came out with intent as the first half got underway and a Cooper lobbed pass allowed Bradley a chance to shoot, but it was a poor finish.

Almost immediately Glentoran countered through Lavery but David Scullion headed wide of the mark.

Braniff will be wondering how he didn’t put Glenavon ahead after Bradley and Andy Hall combined down the right. The striker was on the line but turned the ball over the bar.

Finally the goal Glenavon had been chasing came on 65 minutes when a quick throw taken by Cooper fell for Braniff, who ran into the box and fired across goal and into the net.

Ten minutes later Hall almost doubled their lead with a well struck shot which Morris pushed away for a corner.

The game petered out after the goal, with Glenavon using the final minutes to give a few of their returning players a run out ahead of the Irish Cup final. They will have been particularly pleased to see Daniel Kearns return after a lengthy groin injury.

Glenavon did have to survive a late scare when Allen was played through but his shot was turned over for a corner.

Glentoran: Morris, Gordon, Birney, Kane, Magee, Scullion, McCullough, Morrow, Nelson, Lavery, Allen. Subs: Hogg, Gibson, McKee (McCullough 74), Smith, Cafolla.

Glenavon: Tuffey, Dillon, Lindsay, Kilmartin, Marshall, Cooper, Bradley, Hall, Patton, Braniff, Martyn. Subs: Sykes, McGrory, O’Brien (Braniff 80), Hamilton (Hall 83), Kearns (Cooper 80).

Referee: S Slyva (Lithuania)