Larne end trophy drought with Co Antrim Shield penalty shootout win

LARNE chief Tiernan Lynch last night punched the air in delight after his team won the ToalsBet.Com County Antrim Shield at Seaview.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 10:38 pm
Larne celebrate their County Antrim Shield win over Glentoran.  Mandatory Credit   Inpho/Stephen Hamilton
Larne celebrate their County Antrim Shield win over Glentoran. Mandatory Credit Inpho/Stephen Hamilton

After the game finished scoreless – one that will not live long in the memory – it was Jeff Hughes emerged the hero after hitting the crucial winner in a spot-kick shootout.

The victory helped the east Antrim side end a 33-year senior trophy drought – their last senior piece of silverware, the Ulster Cup, was way back in 1987,

It has to be said, it’s a game that will not live long in the memory, played in an empty stadium because NI Executive Covid restrictions.

The game was steeped in controversy even before a ball was kicked with Glentoran boss Mick McDermott claiming his team were at a disadvantage playing on a synthetic surface, similar to what Larne at used to at Inver Park. He also didn’t think there was enough ‘recovery time’ afforded to both sets of players ahead of important League games at the weekend.

Martin Donnelly, Josh Robinson, Fuad Sule all scored from the spot before Hughes finished the job – striker Davy McDaid fluffed his lines. Larne goalkeeper Conor Devlin saved from Joe Crower and Jay Donnelly, but Robbie McDaid, Gael Bigirimana and Chris Gallagher netted for the Glens.

Larne had the first sniff of goal on 11 minutes. David McDaid sent Marty Donnelly hurtling down the right. The tricky winger’s cross found Mark Randal on the left side of the box, but his could only loft his shot over the crossbar.

But it was the Glens who forced Conor Devlin into the first save of the night. Bigiriman’s free kick being met by the head of Andrew Mitchell, whose low effort forced was impressively clutched by the outstretched glove of the shot-stopper.

Larne attempted to up the ante as the interval approached. Lee Lynch worked his way free on the right, but his cross was superbly hoofed away by Keith Cowan, with McDaid ready to pounce.

Then, seconds later, Donnelly produced a little bit of magic on the edge of the box only to see his low drive expertly gathered by Brown.

The Glens almost forged a breakthrough on 58 minutes when McDaid’s shot rebounded off the boot of defender Keith Cowan, into the path of Donnelly, whose header as pushed past the post by Brown.

Glens’ substitute Jay Donnelly then made ground on the right before testing Devlin with a lost shot.

The action quickly switched to the other end with Jeff Hughes, on for Randall, stinging the hands of Brown with a vicious drive from distance.

Seconds later Fuad Sule tried his luck with a similar effort that the shot-stopper also managed to beat away.

Larne had a let-off with 10 minutes remaining. Bigirimana’s corner kick ricocheted off Hughes before clipping the top of the crossbar, with Glentoran players claiming the ball had struck his hand.

And, the east Belfast side again went close when Bigirimana just failed to get a touch to Chris Gallagher’s excellent cross from the left.