Belfast Telegraph

Comment: It's easy to see why fans can't help falling in love with Larne

Larne's David McDaid celebrates his second goal with the man who made them both; Marty Donnelly.
Larne's David McDaid celebrates his second goal with the man who made them both; Marty Donnelly.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Wise men say only fools rush in.

So it would be perhaps churlish to hail Larne as genuine title contenders after only one game of the season, as impressive as Saturday's 6-0 success over Warrenpoint Town was.

Yet it can be said at least that everything at Inver Park on the Irish League's opening day was impressive.

There was a sense of real anticipation as red shirts were dotted across the town, all pointing in the direction of the old ground with a fresh, new look.

And, as the teams were all but ready to take to the pitch, Elvis Presley's voice began to bellow from the speakers.

"But I can't help falling in love with you."

For the 1200 Larne fans who had packed into the home stand, it did have the feeling of a true love affair, for some long-lasting, some a rekindled romance and perhaps for others, simply love at first sight.

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It wouldn't have been hard to fall, if one was that way inclined, given the standard of the Larne performance as they inflicted a first ever Premiership six-goal defeat on their visitors.

Admittedly, Point's insistence on playing out from the back, while admirable, didn't do them any favours as the two first-half goals were laid on a plate by defensive errors exposed by Larne's high press.

In saying that, the 2-0 lead was the very least the hosts deserved for as dominant an opening 45 as you're likely to see.

Sparked by the simply unplayable Marty Donnelly, Larne never let up. 'Relentless,' is the key word, said boss Tiernan Lynch. They were.

Donnelly, in particular, provided a thrill a minute and only got better after the break. Just 16 seconds into the second half, he laid an unmissable opportunity on a plate for strike partner David McDaid, looking more like Sergio Aguero by the day.

The next assist was arguably the highlight of a thrilling display as he flicked the ball over a spellbound Emmett Bennett's head and, when his cross could only be parried by the goalkeeper, 'Aguero' profitted once more.

Donnelly would pass home another composed finish, his second of the day, to round it all off, later dedicating his display to the late, legendary Cliftonville boss Tommy Breslin.

Some things are meant to be.

Just how convincingly Donnelly won the man of the match award speaks nothing of the quality that surrounded him. From the dominant Albert Watson in defence, aided by cool summer signing Graham Kelly, right through to the front pairing, this is a team with obvious quality.

Then there's Mark Randall, the former Arsenal midfielder who managed to lob Berratt Turker from the edge of the centre-circle. Spectacular. The fact that he had tried, and failed, to do the same during the pre-season, we can only put down to a sense of ideal timing.

It was all football played the 'right' way for the purist. On the deck, pass and move. A joy to watch.

Whether or not it's good enough to stay with the likes of Linfield and Crusaders, we can't yet say.

Regardless, even more home fans will flock to Inver to see their side face Ballymena on Saturday and, with performances like last weekend's, it's easy to see why they can't help falling in love.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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