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Glentoran weather storm to jump into second and crank up the title heat

Glentoran 3 Dungannon Swifts 0

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Spot on: Jay Donnelly celebrates his penalty with Conor McMenamin

Spot on: Jay Donnelly celebrates his penalty with Conor McMenamin

Patrick McClean gets a hug from Seanan Clucas after netting. Credit: INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

Patrick McClean gets a hug from Seanan Clucas after netting. Credit: INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton

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Spot on: Jay Donnelly celebrates his penalty with Conor McMenamin

Mick McDermott’s Glentoran on Friday night catapulted up to second place in the Danske Bank Premiership table following this impressive 3-0 win over Dungannon Swifts at the BetMcLean Oval.

Goals from Jay Donnelly — his 14th of the season — defender Paddy McClean and substitute Robbie McDaid made it another agonising night for Dean Shiels’ side.

Dungannon last won at this venue in January 2019 and that statistic never came under threat as McDermott’s boys turned up the title heat on a bitterly cold night in east Belfast.

Glentoran have lost only one of their last 10 games in all competitions — that was away at Coleraine earlier this month, but they’ll have a chance to avenge that result as they visit the Showgrounds again next Tuesday.

The Glens were coming off a landmark win across town against Crusaders at Seaview last weekend — their first league victory at that venue in a decade.

McDermott made only one change to the team after that result, drafting in Ruaidhri Donnelly in place of McDaid.

Dungannon had pocketed merely nine points from their opening 13 league games, so the omens were not good. Manager Shiels has had his problems of late, particularly in the goalkeeping department with Alex Moore — on loan from Linfield — out injured.

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New signing Michael Quinn — son of former Republic of Ireland striker Niall — was also out for a spell, but he returned between the posts, replacing Tyrone GAA star Niall Morgan. Caolin Coyle was also restored to the starting XI.

The Glens had their first sniff of goal on 13 minutes. Conor McMenamin cleverly shifted the ball onto his right foot before looping over a cross that was headed narrowly wide by Jay Donnelly.

Shiels’ boys responded in a positive manner with former Glentoran midfielder James Knowles sending Rhyss Campbell clear on the left and, when he cut inside, he let fly with a blistering drive that fizzed inches over the top.

McClean then had his pocket picked by Ben Gallagher, but with only Aaron McCarey to beat he failed to get any purchase on the ball and the big goalkeeper saved easily.

But it was Quinn who established himself at the other end, producing a wonderful save to keep out a McMenamin piledriver following a sublime pass from Rhys Marshall.

The home team went close again just before the half-hour. Ruaidhri Donnelly’s cross from the left caused Quinn all sorts of problems in the gusting wind, and his brother Jay just failed to bundle home the rebound.

Plucky Swifts threatened again with Oisin Smyth trying his luck from distance which was spilled by McCarey, but Keith Cowan — another former Glentoran man — failed to picked up the pieces.

Glentoran forged ahead two minutes before the break in controversial circumstances. Referee Christopher Morrison awarded a penalty kick when Bobby Burns went down after a challenge from Ethan McGee.

Jay Donnelly confidently stepped up to send Quinn the wrong way from the spot.

Glentoran roared from the traps after the restart and grabbed a second goal on 54 minutes. McClean drove out of defence with a surging run and from fully 30 yards, he drilled in a low shot, well out of the reach of Quinn.

They almost did it again seconds later when McClean turned provider to Jay Donnelly, who tried to round the goalkeeper only for Quinn to get a glove to the ball to smuggle it away.

Then McMenamin showed great feet on the edge of the box only to see his drive roar inches over the top with Quinn at full stretch.

But McDaid put the icing on the cake in the last minute, drilling low under the legs of Quinn.

GLENTORAN: McCarey, Burns, Marshall, J Donnelly (Cushnie 80), R Donnelly (McDaid 53), McClean, Clucas, Crowe (McCartan 68), Marron, McMenamin (Bigirimana 80), Plum.

Unused subs: Garrett, Glendinning, Smith.

DUNGANNON SWIFTS: Quinn, Coyle (Conway 78), Glynn (Convie 73), Cowan (Glenny 73), Knowles (Odhran Smyth 80), Oisis Smyth, Campbell, Gallagher (Mayse 73), McGinty, McBrien, McGee.

Unused subs: Groogan, McCready.

Referee: Christopher Morrison (Belfast).

Man of the match: Paddy McClean

Match rating:6/10


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