Motherwell 5 Glentoran 1
Glentoran's Europa League adventure ended at a virtually empty Fir Park last night, but if this experience, together with Irish Cup glory, hasn't whetted the appetite for more success in the future then nothing will.
Motherwell could have been a wounded lion in this one-legged tie, vulnerable and lacking in confidence after their winless start to the Scottish Premiership, but they refused to let the Glens record a fairytale victory.
The second-half dismissal of Seanan Clucas clearly harmed the visitors, who were unable to take chances and the game drifted away from them.
Boss Mick McDermott, in charge of the east Belfast side for the 50th time, will still reflect on remarkable progress which has seen the club take bigger strides forward than they imagined.
And while it's Stephen Robinson's men who go into the second qualifying round draw on August 31 after this 5-1 victory, the Glens will walk away with more than £400,000 and an Irish Cup to polish.
The Steelmen, who had Northern Ireland stopper Trevor Carson between the sticks, may have looked a bit rusty this season but they had enough quality to outshine a spirited Glens side.
It could have been very different had Carson not dealt with Ruairi Donnelly's 29th-minute header during a first half in which the visitors were not intimidated or overawed, or if Clucas hadn't been sent for an early shower on 51 minutes, yet the Glens responded well. But then came the sucker punch with Callum Lang's neat finish.
Lang and Stephen O'Donnell scored their first Motherwell goals as Robinson's side overcame some nervous moments.
O'Donnell set up Lang to net in the 58th minute and the Scotland full-back sparked a goal spree with a thunderous long-range strike in the 72nd minute.
Liam Polworth and Tony Watt both scored from rebounds in the subsequent six minutes to subject Glentoran to a harsh scoreline. Christopher Long added to Glentoran's misery before Robbie McDaid netted a consolation from the spot.
The visitors included former 'Well midfielder Gael Bigirimana and they forced some early corners before Long came close.
The visitors were rewarded for their enterprise with a number of chances. Marcus Kane had a shot saved following a poor defensive header from Declan Gallagher, Paul O'Neill's deflected effort spun wide with Carson wrong-footed, and the Northern Ireland goalkeeper made a brilliant save to keep out Donnelly.
Clucas had earlier been booked for a full-blooded sliding tackle on Ricki Lamie and he was off after another poor challenge on O'Donnell. The 10 men had two good chances. Christopher Gallagher delivered a cross which O'Neill fired over and McDaid sent a free header just wide.
Lang then pounced on a loose ball and exchanged passes with O'Donnell before beating the keeper with a deft touch. O'Donnell fired in from 30 yards before Polworth nodded home.
Watt then tapped home before Long headed his first goal of the season. The visitors got off the mark in stoppage time when McDaid converted a penalty after sub Harry Robinson's foul.