Glentoran qualified for the Europa Conference play-off final for the second year in a row with this very comprehensive home win over Glenavon, coincidentally our opponents in our last three semi-finals.
With Harry Murphy out following his unfortunate injury at Seaview ten days ago, recovered skipper Marcus Kane took his place in central defence. Mal Smith was on the bench with Hrvoje Plum suspended.
The Glens couldn’t have got off to a better start, taking the lead on three minutes through soon to be married Luke McCullough. The big central defender latched onto a Niall McGinn corner, his initial shot was saved by former Glens keeper Rory Brown but in the melee that followed Luke headed home.
Over the next period the Glens had decent efforts on goal from Marcus Kane (just wide) and Bobby Burns, countered by a near own goal from Moko from a Peter Campbell cross. Aaron McCarey caught the ball cleanly to avert the danger.
The home side doubled their lead after 38 minutes in outstanding fashion. Rhys Marshall – having a great game – made a brilliant tackle deep in his own half and immediately found Conor McMenamin with a pinpoint long pass. Conor immediately headed for the Glenavon penalty box where he turned ex Glens player Sean Ward inside out before giving Brown no chance.
The Glens last chance of the half came five minutes later when Brown made a great save from Terry Devlin’s drive through a crowded penalty area.
Halftime: Glentoran 2-0 Glenavon
Glentoran started the second half as they finished the first and Niall McGinn could have quicky finished the game after great work from Devlin, Burns and McMenamin, but the winger’s shot went over the bar.
The third wasn’t long coming though, with Devlin and McMenamin again involved. This time Devlin sent Conor Mac away and as the Northern Ireland player crossed for Junior, ex Linfield midfielder Robbie Garrett got there first to put into his own net. By this stage McMenamin was imperious, demonstrating everything that made him so unplayable prior to his injury in November, hitting the post after another solo run.
There followed a brief period when Glenavon came back into the game with their best effort of the night so far when Campbell hit just wide following a corner, then hitting the post on a couple of occasions.
But any idea of a Glenavon comeback was dashed on 72 minutes when following another great direct run, McMenamin delivered a perfect ball to Jay Donnelly (recently on as a sub for Junior) who finished calmly and comfortably for his seventeenth goal of the season.
The other Donnelly brother finished the scoring five minutes later when Rory – having been involved in the build up twice as he linked up beautifully with Jay, finished with aplomb.
With this result we now move on to face Cliftonville at the Bet McLean Oval on Saturday evening with a big, buoyant Glens crowd expected there to back the players with the prize of European football on offer to the winners.
Kick off for Saturday's game will be 4.30pm.
Full Time: Glentoran 5-0 Glenavon
Photographs by PACEMAKER
Glentoran: McCarey, Wightman, Singleton, , McCullough, Kane (c) (Crowe 75), Burns Devlin, Marshall (Smith 75), McGinn (R. Donnelly 67), McMenamin (McCartan 79), & Junior (J. Donnelly 67)