Conor McMenamin hails Glentoran strike force after Glenavon win

Striker Conor McMenamin believes Glentoran have a strike force that could help end the club’s title drought.

By Alex Mills
Sunday, 27th February 2022, 5:33 pm
Updated Sunday, 27th February 2022, 5:35 pm

The East Belfast boys sent out another message of intent – they haven’t had their hands on the Gibson Cup since 2009 – with this thrilling win over gutsy Glenavon at Mourneview Park.

McMenamin was the tormentor in chief, bagging a dramatic hat-trick that took Mick McDermott’s boys back to the top of the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table.

But it certainly wasn’t all one-way-traffic – far from it. Gary Hamilton’s gutsy Glenavon led on two occasions through goals from Matthew Snoddy and Peter Campbell, but had no answer to the predatory instincts of McMenamin.

Glentoran's Conor McMenamin celebrates his third goal.

His strike partner Jay Donnelly also chipped in with a classic finish, following a wonderful move involving his brother Ruaidhri and Bobby Burns.

Unfortunately, it took a glaring goalkeeping error from James Taylor to gift McMenamin his second goal of the day – his cross from the right drifting over the shot-stopper’s glove and into the net.

“My goal that put us front had a bit of luck about it,” he admitted.

“Yes, I could say I meant it, but I just wanted to get the ball into the box. That was the bit of luck we needed. Thankfully, it ended up in the net.

“My third was just the icing on the cake. Everyone was screaming for Michael O’Connor to keep the ball in the corner, but I had a hat-trick in my head and I made a run and he got in a great cross. Once we equalised, there was a big shift in momentum,” he added.

“We were a bit frustrated to fall 2-1 behind, Glenavon were certainly on top at that stage. We got a great goal to equalise... a great ball from Bobby to Ruaidhri and Jay’s header was brilliant. After that the crowd lifted and the atmosphere changed, it helped give the boys that extra bit of energy to go on and win the game.”

McMenamin believes the Glens can now produce a big end to the League campaign.

“Our strike force is up there with the best in the League,” he claimed.

“The gaffer (McDermott) always says if we can keep clean sheets, we’ll win games.

“We knew it would be a battle. The gaffer said before the game, he doesn’t care how we do it, but we must leave with three points. That’s what it’s all about. Yes, it’s nice to play with a bit of flair, but getting the win at this stage of the season is vital. Every week is a battle and you have to scrap it out in every game for three points.

“The win was great, but it’s three points and nothing else. We may be sitting at the top of the table, but we know there are plenty of big challenges up ahead, we’ll not become carried away.”

Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton reckons his team, still hoping to nudge into seventh place in the League table, were a ‘little naïve’ in the latter stages of the game which cost them.

“The third goal from our point was really poor (an error from goalkeeper James Taylor),” he said. “We were then pushing for an equaliser when they scored their fourth.

“Sometimes in life, you don’t get what you deserve. Up until they scored their second goal, we were the better team. When you play against the top teams and give them chances, they will punish you.

“I was really frustrated because we led twice and couldn’t manage to see out the game. Unfortunately, we capitulated when they equalised for a second time – then we hand them a winner. But Glentoran are sitting at the top of the league for a reason.”

GLENAVON: Taylor, Birney, Haughey, A Doyle (J Doyle 88), O’Connor, Campbell, Snoddy (O’Mahony 88), McCloskey (McCloskey 88), Fitzpatrick, Singleton, Ward.

Unused subs: Hall, Scannell, Lynch, Norton.

GLENTORAN: McCarey, Garrett (Cole 28), Burns, McCartan (O’Connor 62), Marshall, J Donnelly, McDaid (R Donnelly 62), Clucas, Marron, McMenamin, Plum.

Unused subs: Cushnie, Wightman, Jenkins, Glendinning.

REFEREE: Shane Andrews.

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