Larne’s ‘incredible’ European run over on night of clubs’ double Euro exit

Larne’s first taste of European football finished last night with a final victory as Mark Randall scored the only goal to exit on a winning note in front of the Inver Park fans.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 13th August 2021, 6:00 am

It left Larne out on aggregate to Pacos de Ferreira from Portugal by 4-1 to close the club’s landmark Europa Conference League adventure at the third qualifying round.

Linfield also made an exit from the competition last night as the defending Irish League champions finished down by 2-1 to Fola Esch in Luxembourg.

In a dramatic second half, Fola broke the deadlock to build on a 2-1 win from Belfast before Stephen Fallon kept Linfield hopes alive.

Ronan Hale on show for Larne at Inver Park against Pacos de Ferreira. Pic by INPHO.

However, an injury-time penalty kick extended the hosts’ hold as the final two Danske Bank Premiership representatives in European competition each suffered exits.

“We probably let ourselves down a bit in Portugal, albeit they are a very good side,” said Larne assistant manager Tim McCann. “For a team that’s never played in Europe before we come away from six games with four wins, a draw and one defeat.

“That’s incredible from this bunch of players, and as far as I’m concerned the only way they can go is up.”

Larne scorer Randall is keen to transfer the European positives into domestic duty.

“We’ve had a good run in Europe, we’re not going to get carried away, we got off to a good start last season but we fell off it,” said Randall. “We know what we have to do from inside the camp, we just have to get our heads down and get on with it.

“Against opposition like that you’re not going to get too many chances.

“I thought we were brilliant tonight and, hopefully, it gives us confidence going into the season.

“I think the centre-half misread the ball through for the goal, he didn’t know I was there...it just sat up nicely for me.”

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