Glentoran got their Danske Bank Premiership campaign off to a winning start. Goals from Robbie McDaid, Conor McMenamin and Rory Donnelly earning us all 3 points at Stangmore Park.
It was almost the perfect start for new signing, Shay McCartan when, with just 5 minutes on the clock, Robbie McDaid burst down the right and fired a dangerous cross into the Swifts' penalty area. The ball was cleared as far as McCartan but his powerful shot from the left corner of the 18-yard box was well saved by Alex Moore in the home goal. The Glens did go in front on 8 minutes though. Shay McCartan's pass from the left touchline, midway inside his own half, found Bobby Burns who fired a long ball forward for Robbie McDaid to chase. The Glentoran number 11 outpaced Cahal McGinty, driving into the area and firing a superb strike past Moore. It was an excellent start for the Glens but although they enjoyed plenty of possession during the next quarter of an hour, the Dungannon Swifts' back line stood firm.
A foul by Luke McCullough on Michael Glynn presented the home side with the opportunity to level things up on 21 minutes and they did, albeit with a couple of slices of luck. Oisin Smyth's free kick took a deflection off Jay Donnelly on the end of the wall, taking it away from Aaron McCarey. The ball struck the inside of the far post, falling kindly to Cahal McGinty who stabbed it home from close range. 4 minutes later the Glens had a similar opportunity following a foul on Shay McCartan. McCartan too the free kick himself, curling the ball just inches wide of the post. Two minutes from the break Dungannon Swifts missed a great opportunity to edge in front. A cross from the right reached Terry Devlin but with the goal at his mercy, he didn't connect well and the two sides headed into the break level at one apiece.
Halftime: Dungannon Swifts 1-1 Glentoran
It was a much more determined Glentoran after the interval. On 47 minutes Jay Donnelly broke into the area and appeared to be taken down but referee, Shane Andrews waved away the penalty appeals. The fast start to the second half did bring a goal though on 50 minutes. Shay McCartan's through ball sent Jay Donnelly clear on goal. Donnelly struck a fierce shot and was unlucky to see it come off the goalkeeper's face and break to the left. Unfortunately for the Swifts custodian, it fell at the feet of Conor McMenamin who stroked it home. Just before the hour mark the Glens had a bit of a let off when a quickly taken short corner caught the defence out. The ball was drilled goalwards but stopped on the line before Hrvoje Plum finally cleared it down field.
Glentoran thought they'd doubled their advantage on 60 minutes. Conor McMenamin crossed from the right and Jay Donnelly lept to head home. The 'goal' was chalked off though by referee Andrews who considered Jay Donnelly had committed some sort of infringement! It seemed harsh given the leniency shown by the officials to this point!
Paddy McClean was the next Glentoran player to go close, picking the ball up in the centre of the field and driving forward before unleashing a 30-yard effort which went narrowly wide. On a rare Dungannon Swifts attack, Joe McCready had a chance but dragged his shot across goal and well wide of the far post.
70 minutes and a quick throw in by Marcus Kane almost put Jay Donnelly in but keeper, Alex Moore was out quickly to clear the danger. The persistent Glens won the ball back quickly though and the Swifts keeper had to turn a great strike from Conor McMenamin bheind for a corner. McMenamin had another chance 15 minutes from time when Jay Donnelly's flick on set him up. McMenamin tried to lob the ball over the keeper but didn't get enough on it and it was a straightforward save for Moore. New dad, Rory Donnelly then came off the bench to replace his brother Jay and almost scored with his first touch! Marcus Kane found Robbie McDaid on the left and his cross was met by Rory Donnelly's diving header. It was turned behind though for yet another corner.
Glentoran looked to have sealed the 3 points with just 5 minutes remaining. A corner from Hrvoje Plum was headed towards goal by Paddy McClean. It was blocked on the line by a combination of Alex Moore and Cahal McGinty but fell to Rory Donnelly who forced it home from just a yard out. A couple of minutes later McMenamin broke on the left and fired a low, hard drive across the area. The inrushing Rory Donnelly just failed to get a touch though. Dungannon Swifts reduced the deficit in the final minute and again a quick throw caught out the Glentoran defence; Ben Gallagher picking up the ball and unchallenged, able to get a strike on goal from the edge of the area. The ball went in off the post ensuring a nervous few minutes for the large travelling support.
We did witness a bit of a horror challenge by Caolan McAleer on Glentoran substitute, Ciaran O'Connor right in front of the fourth official, Andrew Davey but somehow the team of officials deemed a yellow card sufficient punishment. The Swifts were presented with one final chance; a free kick midway inside the Glentoran half with 94 minutes played. The ball into the area was cleared though and the 3 points deservedly went to the East Belfast side.
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: McCarey, Marshall, McCullough, McClean, Kane (c), Burns (Smith 72), McCartan (O'Connor 82), Plum, McDaid (Mitchell 82), J. Donnelly (R. Donnelly 76) & McMenamin.