Sunday Life

| 2.8°C Belfast

McMurray overjoyed after months of hard work is rewarded by firing Larne to late victory over Glenavon



Johnny McMurray came off the bench to fire Larne to victory

Johnny McMurray came off the bench to fire Larne to victory

Johnny McMurray came off the bench to fire Larne to victory

Johnny McMurray bagged a precious late winner to keep Larne at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership with a goal that was a year in the making.

The striker picked up an horrendous anterior cruciate ligament injury against Glentoran in January and has been gradually making his way back since, with a handful of substitute appearances over the last month.

At home to Glenavon yesterday, he was sprung from the bench once more and rewarded boss Tiernan Lynch with a 90th-minute winner.

"I was ecstatic to be among the goals, it was a long time coming," said McMurray.

"There was a lot of effort, a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into it, and it's been worth it, that's what all the other lads were shouting at me when it went in.

"You talk about these sort of moments when you're trying to make your way back and you have in the back of your mind when you're waiting to come on.

"You just want that chance to fall your way and thankfully that happened and I was able to take it."

McMurray was watching from the bench as Glenavon took the lead with the final kick of the first half.

Former Northern Ireland international Michael O'Connor, who looked a threat from set-pieces all day, stood over a free-kick just outside the angle of the Larne box.

With most expecting a cross to the back post, O'Connor's effort sailed over Conor Devlin and into the top corner of the net - only O'Connor will know if he meant it.

In the second half, Larne were much improved and went close to a leveller through Josh Robinson's header.

However, they did make it 1-1 when sub Ronan Hale, who had been on the pitch for just four minutes, levelled with a scorcher on 71 minutes.

He played a one-two with full-back Graham Kelly before cutting in and curling an effort which dipped over Johnny Tuffey and into the top corner.

Buoyed by this, Larne went in search of the goal that would seal a 10th straight Premiership win at Inver Park.

McMurray did well to hold up the ball on the right flank before laying it into the path of John Herron. Andrew Doyle's challenge saw possession break to Fuad Sule in a central area and he wasted no time in sending McMurray clear to make it 2-1.

There was still time for one last incident, with a stoppage-time coming together between McMurray and Sean Ward leading to the Glenavon defender picking up his second yellow of the day.

Lurgan Blues boss Gary Hamilton was left feeling aggrieved at decisions he felt went against his side.

"It's the same old, same old," he moaned.

"At 1-0, I thought we should have had a penalty. I'll watch it back but, for me at the time, the player didn't get the ball.

"John Herron has quite clearly thrown a punch and doesn't get sent off. We're up against it when we play Larne as it is. They're a good side, they're full-time and train every day.

"When you come and put in a good performance, you're relying on a strong refereeing performance as well if you have any hope of getting anything.

"It's every single week that a major decision seems to be going against us."

Sunday Life