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Glentoran 3 Donegal Celtic 1

Glentoran manager Eddie Patterson has called for greater protection for the Danske Bank Premiership's flair players after Jim O'Hanlon had to be carried off in Saturday's opening day victory over Donegal Celtic.

The livewire winger suffered from a badly bruised and swollen ankle which forced his withdrawal from the Northern Ireland under-21 squad for this week's friendly international in Hungary, after a shocking challenge from Celtic defender Pat McShane.

At times we as spectators of the game revel in the physical nature of our league, particularly at a time when the elite end has become so sanitised that it's almost a non-contact sport.

However, there are some players in the league whose skills give people a reason to hand over their money at the gate and O'Hanlon has the ability to fall into that category.

It is for that reason it was disappointing to see McShane forced into an over-physical strategy against the youngster, having found O'Hanlon almost impossible to defend against for the majority of the game, such was his pace and guile.

Indeed, it was the Belfast lad's headed goal, having ghosted in at the back post ahead of the flat-footed McShane, which sealed an impressive opening day win for the Glens.

Patterson felt the 70th minute tackle warranted a sending off, describing it as ‘atrocious.'

“It was a bad, bad challenge, one that I thought merited a red card,” said the Glens boss.

“That's him out of the international game which is a shame.

“There were a couple of wee niggles on him in the first half and late challenges and that one (by McShane) was an atrocious challenge.

“I thought it should have been dealt with a lot harsher than it was.

“That's where we need protection for players like that.”

O'Hanlon's condition will be monitored in the coming days and, although it was too early to judge, Patterson was expecting him to make a quick recovery.

He added: “Jim will bounce back and I wouldn't be surprised if he was pushing it for next week, but it is badly swollen and fingers crossed he will be available for us for next week.

“He had ice on it and hopefully George (Magill, physio) will be able to work on it.

“He is an important player for us, he gives us options going down the flank, either cutting inside or going down the outside. It was typical the goal he scored, too, coming in at the back post, but it's just a shame that he picked up an injury like that.”

O'Hanlon's knock took some of the shine off a good start to the new campaign for the Glens as a penalty from new local hero Jay Magee, after O'Hanlon had been brought down by Conor Downey, set them on their way before Andy Waterworth, who was superb in his role as the lone front man, doubled the advantage.

Mark Miskimmin pulled one back for the Hoops, but O'Hanlon's header made sure the points went to the home team.

And that made for the perfect start to life at the Glens for Magee, who was born-and-bred a mere free kick from the Oval.

“I couldn't have wished for a better start — it was just important to get the win and get the fans on our side,” he said.

“It was absolutely brilliant, I can't even describe it.

“I couldn't sleep thinking about my first match, it's good for me being local and everyone cheering me on. The fans like local boys but most of all they like people who have heart and every player there is going to give that.”

Belfast Telegraph