Conor McMenamin the derby hero as Glentoran grab league upper hand over Linfield

Mick McDermott’s Glentoran sent out a message of intent with a 1-0 victory over Belfast rivals Linfield at a pumping BetMcLean Oval.

By Alex Mills
Friday, 11th February 2022, 10:05 pm

Conor McMenamin bagged the only goal of the game to send the East Belfast side back to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table.

It was billed as a classic between the two biggest clubs in the country - unfortunately, it wasn’t the spectacle the sell-out crowd expected.

Glentoran lost heavily the last time their rivals made the journey across town, slumping to a 3-0 defeat on September 28.

Conor McMenamin (left) celebrates grabbing the game's decisive goal for Glentoran against Linfield in the Premiership top-of-the-table clash. Pic by Pacemaker.

But they had lost only once in front of home fans since that result, beaten 3-2 by Larne in a thrilling contest on the first day of the new year.

But they took ample revenge courtesy of McMenamin’s 14th goal of the season.

Despite the result, what a night it was for Blues skipper Jamie Mulgrew, who pulled on the famous jersey for an astonishing 660th time which equalled the appearance record of a true Linfield legend – the irrepressible Duke of Windsor, Tommy Dickson.

The late Dickson, of course, was captain of the famous Linfield seven-trophy winning team back in the 1961-62 season.

Both sides not only battled each other but the horrible conditions, especially in the first half.

Linfield had the first glimpse at goal on 10 minutes.

Stevie Fallon’s cushioned lay-off played in Jake Hastie and, after taking a touch, he blasted a 20-yard shot over the crossbar.

Former Glentoran defender Connor Pepper angered the home fans by clattering into Sean Murray, but referee Raymond Crangle took no action.

Murray dusted himself down to take the free-kick that failed to get past the first man, Mulgrew.

The home team were presented with another set-piece opportunity minutes later when the experienced Jimmy Callacher hauled down Jay Donnelly.

Hrvoje Plum took on the free-kick responsibility, but it was easily mopped up by the impressive Sam Roscoe.

Playing against the elements, the home team began to boss possession and began to expose the visiting defence.

Donnelly headed a Murray free-kick high over the top before skipper Marcus Kane hoofed a low shot past a posse of legs...but also post the post.

Chris Johns gave the visiting fans an uneasy moment on 25 minutes when he spilled a cross from Kane that was swirling in the wind but the big goalkeeper managed to retrieve the loose ball.

Murray certainly appeared to be Glentoran’s best route to goal.

From another of his dangerous corner-kicks, Robbie McDaid headed straight into the arms of Johns.

Then, at the other end, Paddy McClean prevented a certain goal when he got a crucial touch to a Niall Quinn free-kick with the ball destined for the head of Roscoe after Mulgrew was bundled over by Seanan Clucas.

Glentoran roared from the traps after the restart when Murray’s corner-kick was punched clear to McClean, who tried his luck with a low shot from the edge of the box that fizzed just wide.

But Christy Manzinga burst into action on 52 minutes when sent through the middle by an inch-perfect pass from Chris Shields but he was expertly ushered wide by Rhys Marshall before he could pull the trigger.

Seconds later, Hastie’s free-kick was met by Roscoe at the back post but his header was brilliantly beaten away by Aaron McCarey.

When the rebound landed at the boot of Manzinga, he could only volley wide.

But the Glens forged ahead just on the hour – a goal that will give Roscoe nightmares.

The big defender had his pocket picked by the alert Donnelly and when he bore down on goal his shot was blocked but fell to McMenamin, who tapped into the empty net.

With the clock ticking down, McMenamin came within inches of doubling his team’s lead when he burst down the left only to see his fierce low shot flash right across the face of the goal.

The Blues tried to retrieve the situation and produced their best move of the match when Shields crossed for Matty Clarke, who volleyed just over the top.

Linfield thought they had equalised in stoppage time when Roscoe met a cross from Clarke - only to see McCarey pull off a wonder save.

GLENTORAN: McCarey, Kane (Burns, 68), Marshall, Donnelly (O’Connor, 77), McDaid, Murray, McClean, Clucas, Marron, McMenamin (Cushnie, 88), Plum.

Subs (not used): Bigirimana, McCartan, Crowe, Glendinning.

LINFIELD: Johns, Roscoe, Shields, Callacher, Manzinga, Clarke, Fallon, Mulgrew (McKee, 88), Pepper (Devine, 83), Quinn (Millar, 68), Hastie (Vertainen, 68).

Subs (not used): Walsh, Hall, McClean.

REFEREE: Raymond Crangle.