Sixteen-year-old Karol McGinley scored with his first touch to send Lagan Harps soaring to the summit of the Brian McCormick Sports Premier Division.
Lagan Harps 2 Glenea United 1
McGinley’s goal, in an always-competitive and sometimes-controversial tie, saw Lagan leapfrog Glenea at the top and, with two games to play, Keith Hegarty’s team are enjoying the view from the peak.
McGinley fired home eight minutes from time after Dean McCarry’s dubious equaliser had cancelled out a disputed Glenn Gallagher penalty.
Having won the First Division last season, the Manor residents have taken the top flight by storm and, even if there remains plenty of scope for drama, it is they who lead the way.
Glenea are a point behind and have a game in hand while Drumoghill, the defending champions, can be expected to come with a charge, given that they have played three fewer games that Lagan, whom they trail by six points.
The final day of the season has Lagan punched in to travel to their fierce derby foes at The Moss.
Lagan, despite being without the suspended trio of Micheál Doherty, Mark Hunter and Mark Graham, took the lead in the 41st minute of a cagey first half.
A header by Phillip Doran was adjudged to have come off the hand of Glenea defender Patrick McGee and referee Kevin Logue pointed to the spot.
Gallagher stepped up and confidently tucked the penalty past Joe Coll.
Earlier, it had been Glenea who looked the more likely to take the lead.
Kevin Mulhern spotted Darren McAvoy, the Lagan goalkeeper, off his line, but his enterprising shot was wide.
McAvoy saved at the feet of Ciaran McGeady and Mulhern was just wide with another attempt before Gallagher broke the deadlock.
Glenea themselves had a penalty shout when they claimed Oisin Grant had pushed Ciaran McFadden in the area, but the appeals fell upon deaf ears.
Glenea did draw level, however, with a hotly contested goal. Sean Coll’s corner was headed goalwards by McCarry. The ball bounced through Mulhern’s legs and, although McAvoy appeared to save on the line, the goal was given.
Lagan were furious and McAvoy’s body position certainly didn’t appear to have been across the line.
Marty Brogan drilled a free into Coll’s arms and, at the other end, Ryan McFadden’s quickly-taken free was off-target.
Lee O’Brien almost turned into his own net from a Eunan Diver free, while Diver himself might’ve headed in, but opted to nod across goal from Caolan Grant’s delivery.
Time was ticking fast, but Lagan – buoyed on by a big Orchard Park crowd – hit the front again.
Just two minutes after they’d come on in a double substitution, Caolan Murray and McGinley were at the epicentre of things. Murray was denied by Coll, but McGinley steered home what could be a priceless goal.
Indeed, it was the Royal and Prior student’s second match winner at the start of March in a 4-3 thriller with Castlefin.
Glenea threw the contents of the kitchen at the Lagan area but the hosts managed to survive almost eight minutes of added time to get the win that takes them to the top.
As the natives did the maths at the conclusion, they were beginning to dream.
Lagan Harps: Darren McAvoy, Oisin Grant, Marty Brogan, Caolan Grant, Ronan Gibson, Oran Hilley, Eunan Diver, Glenn Gallagher, Phillip Doran, Conor Matthewson, Darren Doran. Subs: Caolan Murray and Karol McGinley for C.Grant and D.Doran (80).
Glenea United: Joe Coll, Dean McCarry, Sean Coll, Patrick McGee, Paul Sweeney, Eamonn Cannon, Kevin Mulhern, Ryan McFadden, Ciaran McFadden, Lee O’Brien, Ciaran McGeady. Subs: Kevin McFadden for O’Brien (76), Darren Ferry for McGeady (80).
Referee: Kevin Logue.Tags: