Dungannon Swifts 1
Crafty Robbie McDaid helped himself to a hat-trick in Glentoran’s demolition of ailing Dungannon Swifts at The Oval.
The 23-year-old was on fire, gobbling up a quick-fire early double before completing his first treble of the season from the penalty spot 11 minutes from time.
Paul O’Neill also helped himself to a brace, before Hrvoje Plum rammed home a spectacular trademark free-kick late on.
Dungannon’s only moment of relief was a first-half strike from Ben Gallagher, but it was another day to forget for Kris Lindsay’s side, who have now lost eight games on the bounce and this display had relegation written all over it.
Although Plum is usually the man on the spot for the Glens, McDaid admitted that, at 4-1 up, no one was getting the ball once referee Steve Gregg had rather harshly punished defender Caoham McGuinness for an apparent hand ball offence.
“Hrvoje is the regular penalty taker but, because of the circumstances, there was no chance of him hitting that one, smiled McDaid. “As soon as I won the penalty, there was only one person hitting it.
“Paul O’Neill wanted it, but I told him you are self-employed in football, you have to look after yourself and I aim to do that.
“That was my second hat-trick for Glentoran and my first of the season. Hopefully there are a few more to come.”
Plum had the last laugh with that wonderful free, however.
“Hrvoje has got that in the locker,” added McDaid. “I’m starting to call him Mr Whippy, I think we’ll need to get him an ice cream van.
“Seriously, he is frightening from 35 yards — his set pieces are crazy. The way he strikes the ball is special, he has no back lift. It was great for him to get the free-kick, because he was never getting the penalty.”
It was a procession for Mick McDermott’s boys practically from the first whistle and it was no surprise they forged ahead after only six minutes when Gavin Peers’ shot was beaten away by the legs of Stuart Addies, only for McDaid to pounce and convert the rebound.
The crowd were still celebrating when Navid Nasseri’s delicious ball over the top picked out McDaid, who cleverly lobbed the stranded Addis.
There was a glimmer of hope for Swifts on 14 minutes when Caolin Coyle’s cross was headed clear by Patrick McClean but was picked up by Chris Lowe, whose pass was finished smartly by Gallagher.
McDaid was deprived his hat-trick on 61 minutes. Addis somehow kept out his near post flick after a great piece of play from Nasseri, but the ball was recycled to Peers on the right and O’Neill was up head and shoulders above everyone else to head home.
The Glens piled on the agony. This time substitute Jonny Frazer’s low shot was saved by the legs of Addis but when the ball fell to O’Neill, he buried it.
McDaid then completed his party piece on 79 minutes. It was his shot that was apparently handled by McGuinness, allowing the home striker to net from the spot.
The best was saved to the last. And it was another one of the Plum’s portfolio of spectacular goals two minutes from time. He took aim from fully 30 yards and his thundering free-kick ripped into the top corner.
Swifts boss Kris Lindsay bolted from the ground straight after the final whistle without undertaking his media duties. He was probably lost for words following another anemic showing.
His team is now haunted by the threat of relegation — and, on the evidence of this performance, it is going to take something special for them to survive.