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Irish League Round-Up: Donnelly at the double for Glentoran as Canning helps Coleraine keep pressure on

 

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Glentoran's Rory Donnelly and Glenavon's Aaron Harmon during today's game at The Oval (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

Glentoran's Rory Donnelly and Glenavon's Aaron Harmon during today's game at The Oval (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

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Glentoran's Rory Donnelly and Glenavon's Aaron Harmon during today's game at The Oval (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

It wasn't a high-scoring day in the Danske Bank Premiership but it was still an important one at the top of the table as Coleraine and Glentoran picked up wins.

Meanwhile, Cliftonville furthered their top-six aspirations with a battling draw at Larne, while Dean Shiels' wait for a first point as Dungannon manager continues.

Here's how everything panned out today...

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Cliftonville's Aaron McCarey makes a big save to keep Larne scoreless (Andrew McCarroll/ Pacemaker Press)

Cliftonville's Aaron McCarey makes a big save to keep Larne scoreless (Andrew McCarroll/ Pacemaker Press)

Cliftonville's Aaron McCarey makes a big save to keep Larne scoreless (Andrew McCarroll/ Pacemaker Press)

 

Larne 0-0 Cliftonville

10-MAN Cliftonville moved up to fifth in the Danske Bank Premiership as goalkeeper Aaron McCarey produced a fine performance to help earn a draw at Larne.

The Reds stopper made a string of excellent saves to keep the home side at bay and take them above Crusaders in the table as their bid to finish in the top-six gathers momentum.

It's a result that does nothing for Larne, whose title hopes take another hit, with the Inver men now 13 points behind Linfield with only one game in hand over the table toppers.

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Tiernan Lynch's men couldn't even take advantage of Declan Dunne's second half sending off for Cliftonville, who held out superbly with one less man to earn a share of the spoils.

"On our part, I actually thought we played pretty well," said Larne midfielder John Herron. "Everyone knows we had that sticky spell, but we showed some great resilience and we worked hard on the training pitch and you can see it's paying off.

"We were unfortunate, and that says a lot to us. That's nothing against Cliftonville, but we're disappointed as a team there in the changing room. But we have to build on it and continue the momentum into the next game.

"We're not going to beat around the bush, we as a club and as individuals want to compete for the league and get into Europe, and anybody that comes here has to want to win. If we don't come away from a home game with a win then we're disappointed.

"Those are the standards we set for ourselves. We can come away from here and back ourselves all we want but we're still disappointed."

Given the final result, Ryan Curran's thumping effort on the volley that crashed off the crossbar in just the 12th minute proved to be a false sign of things to come as the Reds went close early.

However, from there Larne took over, and Marty Donnelly saw a shot that seemed destined for the top corner outstandingly denied by McCarey prior to another effort just dropping the wrong side of the post.

But in the second half chances were at a premium, with Davy McDaid's shot blocked when McCarey perhaps looked a little stranded, but that would be the closest either side would come.

Dunne was then shown a straight red card for an off the ball incident shortly after coming on from the bench, reducing the visitors to 10 men, but Larne couldn't use their extra man to their advantage, it finishing honours even.

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Glentoran's Jay Donnelly celebrates his goal against Glenavon at The Oval (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

Glentoran's Jay Donnelly celebrates his goal against Glenavon at The Oval (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

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Glentoran's Jay Donnelly celebrates his goal against Glenavon at The Oval (David Maginnis/Pacemaker Press)

 

Glentoran 3-1 Glenavon

Jay Donnelly struck twice for Glentoran as they gained revenge for their midweek loss to Glenavon by seeing off the same opponents at The Oval, 3-1.

The forward was on top form, firing the equalising goal to cancel out Matthew Fitzpatrick's opener for the visitors, before adding the third to make the result safe late on.

Dale Gorman had a fine outing for the Glens too, the midfielder involved in all three of the Glens' goals, scoring one, as Mick McDermott's men cut into Linfield's lead at the top.

"I thought we deserved the three points. I thought the first half performance, in terms of keeping possession, we were really dominant and I was disappointed we conceded the goal we did but happy we got it back quickly," said McDermott.

"Second half wasn't as fluid for us but I thought we did more than enough to win."

The result is another blow to Glenavon's top-six hopes as Gary Hamilton's men passed up the opportunity to move up to seventh, instead staying eighth, five points behind Crusaders.

The visitors had gone ahead when the unfortunate Luke McCullough headed into his own goal, the defender putting a header past his own goalkeeper Rory Brown from six yards out.

But the lead lasted just two minutes, Gorman earning his first assist of the afternoon by spotting the perfect through ball for Donnelly and the striker supplied the delicate lobbed finish to level the scores with his first.

And with seven minutes to the interval, the Belfast side forged ahead, Gorman this time going from provider to scorer as he was left all alone right in front of goal to finish off Ruaidhri Donnelly's delivery.

After the restart, both Donnelly and Gorman had further chances denied by Craig Hyland as the hosts tried to close out the game and after the Glenavon keeper had saved them initially, Donnelly finally got his second.

There was some controversy surrounding the goal, but the Glenavon defenders' appeals for offside fell on deaf ears as Donnelly picked up Gorman's deflected shot and smashed in the clincher.

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Coleraine's Aaron Canning strikes their winner against Carrick Rangers (Inpho/Stephen Hamilton)

Coleraine's Aaron Canning strikes their winner against Carrick Rangers (Inpho/Stephen Hamilton)

Inpho/Stephen Hamilton

Coleraine's Aaron Canning strikes their winner against Carrick Rangers (Inpho/Stephen Hamilton)

 

Coleraine 1-0 Carrick Rangers

AARON Canning's late goal saw Coleraine keep the pressure on Linfield at the top of the table as they edged a resilient Carrick Rangers side 1-0 at the Showgrounds.

The defender managed to turn in Stephen O'Donnell's rebound to finally break the Rangers rearguard and cut the Blues' lead to eight points having played two games less.

"We're delighted with the three points. The nature of it doesn't surprise me because people keep casting down those teams at the bottom of the table, but I've never played Carrick and gotten it easy," claimed Coleraine boss Oran Kearney.

"They should have come here today and lay down, but typical of Niall - and I drilled this into the boys before the game - you just knew they were going to make a game of it.

"So credit to them, but also credit to our boys for sticking at it. It was a slow game and you could see that frustration come into it. But credit to our boys for sticking at it and getting the three points."

Carrick, meanwhile, stay 11th in the table after their fifth straight defeat in the league and are desperately looking for another burst of energy to take them on a run of wins.

It was far from a classic on the Ballycastle Road, with Canning nodding a corner wide the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock before half-time in a drab first period.

Carrick had a decent opportunity to get the opener when Kyle Cherry set up Daniel Kelly but the midfielder smashed the shot over the crossbar.

But just when it looked like the game was destined to head for a draw, up stepped Canning, who was quickest to the rebound after Stephen O'Donnell hit the crossbar at a corner box to secure the three points.

Eoin Bradley had a late chance to double the Bannsiders' winning margin, only for Aaron Hogg to make a sensational stop to deny him, but it didn't change the destination of the points.

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Portadown's Lee Bonis scored their winner against Dungannon Swifts (Stephen Davison)

Portadown's Lee Bonis scored their winner against Dungannon Swifts (Stephen Davison)

Portadown's Lee Bonis scored their winner against Dungannon Swifts (Stephen Davison)

 

Dungannon Swifts 0-1 Portadown

DUNGANNON Swifts have now lost seven straight games in the league and Dean Shiels' wait for a first point in charge of the club continues after Portadown emerged 1-0 winners at Stangmore Park.

Lee Bonis' finish right on the stroke of half-time was the decider in this one as Matthew Tipton's men picked up a crucial win to take them away from the bottom two.

The Swifts will probably feel they deserved something from this game given some of the play they produced, which was nice on the eye, but they lacked the cutting edge.

"It was a good, disciplined performance from us. All over the pitch we were solid, we restricted them to only a few chances and when we were in their final third we looked dangerous today," said Portadown manager Matthew Tipton.

"We obviously lost the last two, but since the end of February we've been showing some good signs. So we knew we were performing well enough, we just hadn't had enough victories.

"I thought today we eradicated all our mistakes and were pretty ruthless, and we shut them down in how we defended."

It looked like the two sides would head in deadlocked scoreless at half-time until Bonis popped up with the opener right on the stroke of the break, the striker turning in Barney McKeown's shot that was originally going wide.

After the break, Daniel Hughes should have done better with an effort just a few minutes in but couldn't supply the finish, and James Convey hit woodwork late on but that's as good as it would get for Dungannon.

That means the wait goes on for Shiels, however he should be encouraged by what he saw from his men on this occasion, while the Ports now have two wins in their last four.


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