Glenavon 0-1 Glentoran

Sports Direct Premiership

Mourneview Park

Saturday 5th August 2023

Match report by Calum Jones

Glenavon suffered a cruel last-gasp defeat at home to Glentoran in the opening game of the season on Saturday, with Jay Donnelly grabbing the game’s only goal in the eighth minute of stoppage time.

It looked like the Lurgan Blues were going to earn a point for a battling display against a team that finished third last season, but Shay McCartan drove into the Glenavon penalty area after play had been restarted following a stoppage for a clash of heads, and the substitute drove a low cross into the six-yard box, where Donnelly was on hand to convert and send the away fans into raptures.

Former Glenavon favourite Rhys Marshall had a great chance to open the scoring in the fifth minute when he raced clear down the right flank. The right-back carried the ball into the penalty area before shooting with his right foot. Rory Brown stood tall, though, and the Glenavon goalkeeper was able to keep the effort out.

The visitors came even closer to breaking the deadlock ten minutes later when former Northern Ireland international Niall McGinn had a shot cleared off the line. Daire O’Connor’s looping cross from the right was headed out by Glenavon defender Sean Ward. The ball fell invitingly for McGinn and he drilled a left-foot shot through the legs of Ward. With goalkeeper Brown beaten, Glenavon captain Danny Wallace had to clear the ball off the line.

The home side grew into the game as the first half wore on, frustrating a Glentoran team who increasingly attempted to release their forward players with long balls over the top, but in truth the Lurgan Blues rarely looked like threatening Aaron McCarey in the Glens’ goal. The game remained scoreless at half-time.

Junior was brought on as a half-time substitute for Glentoran, and he almost made a significant impact two minutes after the restart. O’Connor slipped a pass into the penalty area for the forward, who squared a low ball across the box towards Jay Donnelly. Matthew Snoddy, deployed at right-back for Glenavon, did superbly to come across and cover, cutting out the cross.

Aaron Prendergast was presented with a sight at goal in the 52nd minute when the excellent Tiarnan Mulvenna (who was rightly awarded the sponsor’s man of the match award) slid a pass into him. Prendergast elected to shoot when the better option might have been to try and play Peter Campbell in on goal. In the end, the striker’s low shot from 20 yards out was comfortably saved by McCarey.

Two minutes after that Prendergast effort Glenavon won a free kick in a central area. Malone stepped up and hit a stinging shot from all of 35 yards which found the target, with McCarey having to dive to his right to keep the ball out.

A minute later at the other end there were strong shouts for a penalty when Ward challenged Junior in the box. It was a clumsy-looking tackle from the veteran, but referee Andrew Davey was uninterested in the appeals for a spot kick.

Junior missed a glorious opportunity to put Glentoran ahead on 65 minutes. The striker himself initially won a header from a McCarey goal kick. McGinn then played a one-two with Donnelly before producing a slide-rule pass to send Junior racing through on goal. Junior’s low side-footed shot beat Brown but came back off the upright, with Isaac Baird able to pick up the loose ball and clear.

Donnelly ran onto a long ball from McCarey in the 71st minute and hit a first-time shot on target, but it was straight at Brown.

McCartan was brought on in place of O’Connor with 76 minutes on the clock, and four minutes later he produced a superb cross from deep on the right flank, but none of his teammates could manage to get on the end of it.

There were gasps among supporters when the fourth official indicated that there would be seven minutes of time added on, and we were into the sixth of those when McCartan delivered another dangerous cross from the right, this time from a free kick. Baird did very well to clear on this occasion.

McCartan wasn’t going to be prevented from producing a telling moment right at the death, however. After the game had been stopped due to a clash of heads between Glenavon captain Wallace and teammate Andrew Mooney, play was restarted by the referee with a drop-ball some 25 yards from Brown’s goal. It looked as though the Glenavon players assumed that McCartan would deliver a first-time ball into the box. Instead, Glentoran’s number seven drove past Mulvenna into the penalty area before drilling a low cross into the six-yard box, where Donnelly got his boot to the ball to force it into the net and break Glenavon hearts in the 98th minute of the match.

Having looked set to pick up a hard-earned opening-day point, Glenavon will no doubt feel hard done by. The Lurgan Blues will be determined to bounce back next Saturday (12th August) when they travel to Solitude to take on Cliftonville. Kick-off will be at 3pm.


BALL SPONSOR – Margaret Tinsley


Glenavon: 1. Rory Brown (GK), 7. Matthew Snoddy, 8. Jack Malone, 10. Peter Campbell, 11. Niall Quinn, 16. Isaac Baird, 20. Stephen Teggart, 21. Aaron Prendergast, 22. Tiarnan Mulvenna, 23. Daniel Wallace (C), 30. Sean Ward

Subs: 3. Aaron Rogers (for 11. Niall Quinn, 68’), 34. Cohen Henderson (for 8. Jack Malone, 68’), 19. Andrew Mooney (for 20. Stephen Teggart, 79’), 24. Jamie Doran (for 21. Aaron Prendergast, 82’); not used: 2. Conor Kerr, 28. Robert Garrett, 29. Jackson Nesbitt

Goals: None

Yellow cards: 3. Aaron Rogers (90+5’)

Glentoran: 37. Aaron McCarey (GK), 4. Luke McCullough (C), 5. Aidan Wilson, 6. Robert (Bobby) Burns, 8. Rhys Marshall, 9. Jay Donnelly, 11. Daire O’Connor, 12. James Singleton, 15. Fuad Sule, 17. Cameron Palmer, 38. Niall McGinn

Subs: 22. Patrick McClean (for 8. Rhys Marshall, 30’), 40. Chukwuemeka Uzokwe (for 17. Cameron Palmer, 46’), 7. Seamus McCartan (for 11. Daire O’Connor, 77’), 35. Rhys Walsh (for 38. Niall McGinn, 77’), 20. Joshua Kelly (for 6. Robert (Bobby) Burns, 90’); not used: 25. Oliver Webber (GK), 30. Jordan Jenkins

Goals: 9. Jay Donnelly (90+8’)

Yellow cards: 6. Robert (Bobby) Burns (39’), 9. Jay Donnelly (45+1’)

Referee: Andrew Davey