Causeway Chronicle

Ten man Coleraine lose to five star champions Larne

Larne 5 Coleraine 0

A much changed Coleraine team suffered a heavy defeat in their final regular league game of the season as Larne were officially crowned champions.

Manager Oran Kearney handed starts to Marty Gallagher, Darren Cole and Davy McDaid at a sold out Inver Park.

Expect to see the regulars back for Wednesday’s crunch European Play Off semi final with Glentoran at the Oval.

It was party time for the Larne faithful as they celebrated back-to-back title triumphs with a dominant display.

And it took just a quarter of an hour for the Gibson Cup holders to open their account.

They did so in style… Michael Glynn smashing a sensational half volley from outside the box beyond the he helpless Gallagher.

It was almost two five minutes later – Gallagher making a fine stop to deny Dylan Sloan after he was teed up by a clever Mark Randall pass.

Coleraine suffered a blow midway through the first half – and a worry for the forthcoming trip to East Belfast – when Conor McKendry went off injured, replaced by 16-year-old Alfie Gaston, nephew of ex Showgrounds favourite Rory Hamill.

Coleraine’s first real attack of note saw McDaid lift the ball over the crossbar after half an hour after being picked out by Lee Lynch.

It turned out to be a day to forget for Cole on one of his rare starts.

The central defender was sent off five minutes before the break for fouling Paul O’Neill after his initial error allowed the striker to bear down on goal.

Andy Ryan made no mistake from the penalty spot for his 30th goal of the campaign.

Another defensive mistake handed Larne a third sixty seconds before half time.

This time Stevie O’Donnell was caught napping and the lively O’Neill pounced with a clinical finish.

The striker carried on where he finished off, striking just 60 seconds into the second half.

It was another mishap at the back…Kieran Farren’s backward header from Chris Gallagher’s forward ball falling into the path of O’Neill who made no mistake from close range.

The Bannsiders’ created a chance on 55 minutes as McDaid released Lynch but he blazed over.

Ten minutes later Farren headed substitute Jamie Glackin’s corner wide at the back post.

Teenager Sam McClintock, off the back of a fine season for the title winning Under 20’s, was handed his debut as a replacement for McDaid for the final quarter of an hour.

Larne added a fifth seven minutes from time and once again it was preventable as the defensive woes continued.

Referee Raymond Crangle – on his last day officiating – deemed Glackin’s ball, caught by Gallagher to avoid an own goal, as a back pass.

Former Celtic and Hibs midfielder Scott Allan, only on the the pitch a matter of minutes, blasted home the free kick from six yards.

In the grand scheme of things this defeat counts for little.

All eyes are now on the midweek showdown with the Glens.
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Maurice Bradley