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Glentoran boss Mick McDermott reads riot act after "inexcusable" European play-off collapse

By Darren Fullerton

Glentoran boss Mick McDermott read the riot act after European qualification was tossed away on a dramatic night at the BetMcLean Oval.

The Big Two giants led 2-0 with 16 minutes of normal time remaining but ended up losing 4-2 to a Ronan Hale-inspired Larne after extra-time.

Supersub Hale helped himself to four goals, the fourth into an empty net from a couple of yards outside his own box as the Glens chased a late reprieve at the death.

Read more: Larne striker Ronan Hale scores wonder goal from edge of own penalty box

“We had it in the palm of our hand and threw it away,” said McDermott, whose frustration focused on two key moments as Larne hit back from 2-0 down to force extra time.

The visitors' first came when Hale fired home a rebound at a penalty after Glens defender Paddy McClean was red carded for pulling back Davy McDaid inside the area.

And the second came from another penalty after goalkeeper Aaron McCarey raced off his line to bundle over McDaid at a half cleared corner.

Both were rushes of blood and “inexcusable” according to McDermott who had been hoping to lead the Glens into Europe for a third successive year.

On McClean’s 74th minute red card, he said: “The long ball could have been dealt with. Go and attack it. But we let it bounce and then a pulled shirt. Madness.

“That hurt us, but the second penalty decision was worse than the first one because there are only seven minutes left and we should be on alert.

“It is completely inexcusable and unacceptable from two senior players to put our club in this situation. Yes, we all take collective responsibility and it’s the team that suffers.

"The fans suffer, we suffer. There’s nothing else I can say. It’s a chance to play European football and it’s been completely thrown away. If we don’t learn from that, what do you learn from? Poor.”

Glentoran were in the box seat after Conor McMenamin’s early header and Jay Donnelly’s 30th goal of the season after the break edged them into a relatively comfortable 2-0 lead.

But Hale, a 54th minute replacement for Andy Scott, stole the headlines with two goals in the 74th and 83rd minute before adding two more in extra-time.

“At 2-0 we looked comfortable and it might have been more,” said McDermott. “I can only sum it up as madness in terms of what we saw with 16 minutes to go.

“We were ready to go into Europe and two moments of madness turned it on its head. We gave Larne those goals. It’s a hard one to take, but we have to take it and learn from it.”

Larne's victory in Friday night's play-off final secured the club's place in next season's Europa Conference League and at least £210,000 for featuring in the first qualifying round of the competition.

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Dive Deeper:
Larne striker Ronan Hale scores wonder goal from edge of own penalty box
Ronan Hale scored four goals as Larne beat Glentoran in an absorbing European play-off final
Larne striker Ronan Hale: I'll remember this goal - and night - for the rest of my life
23-year-old bagged four off the bench to fire Inver Reds into Europa Conference League
Glentoran striker Jay Donnelly makes Northern Ireland admission after winning Golden Boot
27-year-old scored 30 goals in all competitions for the Ovalmen this season
Larne goalkeeper Conor Devlin channels The Smiths as he confirms his Inver Park exit
30-year-old is being linked with a move to English League One club Fleetwood Town
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Larne boss Tiernan Lynch: Flak makes me even more determined to bring success to Inver Park
Inver Reds won the Shield in January and qualified for Europe via the play-offs
Portadown boss Paul Doolin makes drop zone vow after agreeing permanent contract
Dubliner kept club in the top flight after being appointed on an interim basis in January
Get all your news in one place