Glentoran sensationally booked their place in the semi-finals of the Setanta Sports Cup last night amid dramatic scenes at the Oval.
The Glens needed to beat St Pat's and hope that Derry City did them a favour at the Brandywell by beating Linfield and amazingly their dream came true as the Blues went down 3-0 and Daryl Fordyce's early goal gave Alan McDonald's men a well deserved victory.
In a thoroughly entertaining encounter in the capital, the Glens showed battling qualities and no less quality to see off the eircom League club and leapfrog their fierce rivals into the last four for the first time where they will now face a trip to Drogheda United.
It was clear from the kick-off that Glentoran were up for this one. They hassled and harried their full-time counterparts forc
ing them into mistakes and belying the fact that they have been perennial strugglers in this competition.
After just two minutes, Gary Hamilton's neat flick on released both Michael Halliday and David Scullion to bear down on goal but one of them was offside and basically ruined it for the other.
Four minutes later Scullion almost had the Glens in front. Hamilton's free kick was swung in dangerously and the former Dungannon winger rose highest to force a fine tip over the top from Barry Ryan.
However the stopper was to blot his copybook from the resulting corner as Glentoran amazingly went into the lead. Grant Gardiner's corner had Ryan flapping and he palmed the ball out,
only out to Fordyce who looped his header into the far corner.
It was expected that Pat's would come out all guns blazing in the second half, yet still they were second best to every ball with perhaps their European excursions — having come so close to reaching the group stages of the Uefa Cup — catching up on them.
They were committing a lot of men forward and Glentoran looked as though they may find more joy up front with fans having expected them to be pegged back for the most of the remainder of the game.
Indeed Halliday should have doubled the advantage on 61 minutes when he capitalised on a mistake at the back to nip in but goalkeeper Ryan blocked the striker's shot well.
With around 20 minutes remaining news filtered through from the Brandywell that Linfield were 2-0 down meaning that if Glentoran held on here they would take their place in the final four.
That seemed to lead to a few nerves in the Glens ranks as Pat's pressed forward.
Gary Dempsey had Morris clambering across to make a great
parry to his right on 74 minutes.
However, marshalled by Paul Leeman, the home side stood firm and fought off the pressure.
It was made even more difficult in the dying minutes when McCabe was given a second yellow card for dissent.
Then in injury time Morris proved his worth with an absolutely outstanding save when skipper Jamie Harris struck through a crowded area and the Glens keeper got down low to parry brilliantly.
In a frantic last few minutes Fahey was also given his marching orders before referee Brian Turkington blew his whistle to signal wild celebrations at the Oval on a famous night for the east Belfast men.
GLENTORAN: Morris, Nixon (McGovern 55), Leeman, Ward, Hill, Gardiner (McMenamin 74), McCabe, Fordyce, Scullion (Waterworth 79), Hamilton, Halliday. Subs: James Taylor (GK), Waterworth, Berry, Boyce, McMenamin, Jonny Taylor.
St PAT'S ATHLETIC: Ryan, Byrne (Kirby 69), Lynch, Fahey, Quigley, Fitzpatrick, Harris, Dempsey, Guy, O'Brien (Brennan 62), Rogers. Subs: Friesz, Bialek, O'Cearhill, Haverty.
Referee: Brian Turkington (Belfast)