McGonigle stunner to Irish Cup bragging rights: Five talking points from Saturday's Irish League action
There were 23 goals in six Danske Bank Premiership matches on Saturday afternoon in a typically entertaining day of action.
Add to that the Irish Cup fourth round fixtures and it there was plenty to discuss.
Here are the key takeaway points:
1. Former Bannsiders fire Crusaders above Coleraine at the top
It was a touch ironic that it was two ex-Bannsiders that helped inspire Crusaders to a stunning second half display at Stangmore Park.
The Crues smashed Dungannon 6-1 to climb to the top of the league, above both Cliftonville and Crusaders on goal difference and it was largely down to Howard Beverland and, more-so, Jamie McGonigle.
While Beverland nodded in his side's fourth with his fourth goal for the club, McGonigle had a hand in all four of the remaining second half goals. First he crossed for Ross Clarke and Philip Lowry to convert then added the icing himself, smashing a stunning dipper across Dungannon's 16-year-old goalkeeper Conor Byrne and into the top corner before also unleashing a free-kick.
McGonigle now has seven Premiership goals this season and is well on his way towards his top tally with Coleraine; 16 Premiership goals in the 17/18 season.
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2. Glentoran finally topple a top four team
Glentoran are fifth in the table and only five points off the top of the league but Saturday's 2-0 win at Cliftonville was their first win over any of the top four teams this season.
Their record before Saturday against Crusaders, Coleraine, Cliftonville and Linfield was five defeats and one draw. Little wonder captain Marcus Kane had called on his side to take the next step on their development. Goals from Cameron Stewart and Chris Gallagher ensured they did just that and fired themselves into the title race in the process.
3. Record-breaking Carrick pour more misery on Glenavon
Carrick Rangers had never scored six goals in a top flight game until Saturday afternoon.
That's exactly what they did, smashing Gary Hamilton's Glenavon 6-2 at Taylor's Avenue. It's Rangers' fourth win in their last seven games and fires them up to seventh in the league.
Glenavon slip to ninth and have now won only four of their last 13 league outings. The Lurgan Blues are only fives points off a relegation play-off place.
4. A wide fight for survival?
Teams like Glenavon and Ballymena, both on 17 points, should be looking over their shoulders as the league's bottom two sides both picked up victories on Saturday afternoon. Basement side Warrenpoint beat Ballymena 2-1 while Institute shocked Coleraine 2-0. They're now on nine and 12 points respectively and are threatening to blow the relegation battle VERY wide open.
5. King wins bragging rights in Irish Cup clash
Much had been made of the first managerial meeting of two former Linfield team-mates as Stuart King's Banbridge Town hosted Michael Gault's Ballymacash Rangers in the Irish Cup fourth round. The game lived up to its billing as Town edged a five goal thriller 3-2, Conor Downey's rasping penalty deciding the game as it cannoned in off the underside of the crossbar.
GOAL!!! Downeys penalty puts Town 3-2 up pic.twitter.com/ZPig24Raty— Banbridge Town FC (@banbridgetownfc) November 30, 2019
Now the Premiership teams enter in round five.
Irish Cup round four results
Banbridge Town 3-2 Ballymacash Rangers
Belfast Celtic 2-1 Larne Tech OB
Brantwood 2-5 Rathfriland Rangers
Coagh United 0-1 Crumlin Star
Dollingstown 6-0 Tullycarnet
East Belfast 7-1 Islandmagee
Limavady United 1-3 Bangor
Valley Rangers 1-5 Hanover
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