By Aidan Fitzmaurice at Tolka Park
Republic of Ireland champions Shelbourne FC won the home and away legs of a European tie for the first time in their history with a comfortable victory against their Northern Irish counterparts Glentoran FC.
Shelbourne now play 1985/86 competition winners FC Steaua Bucuresti in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, with the first leg in Dublin next week. The Romanian club's coach Oleg Protassov, who was in Dublin for this tie, will have come away impressed with the home side, especially their strikeforce of Jason Byrne and Glen Crowe who scored three goals between them.
Before the game kicked off, Shelbourne were already in the driving seat thanks to a 2-1 first-leg win in Belfast seven days earlier and despite a large travelling support for Glentoran, Shelbourne showed no signs of nerves in the first half as they took a 1-0 lead on the night after only 14 minutes. Defender Owen Heary, playing his 22nd European match for the club, scored his first goal in UEFA competition with a close-range header from David Crawley's free-kick which gave keeper Elliott Morris no chance.
That goal seemed to spark Glentoran into life and they went close to scoring on 20 minutes, when Tommy McCallion tested Dean Delaney. But the Shelbourne keeper was beaten a minute later. The home defence had failed to block a run by Glentoran striker Michael Halliday and after a scramble the ball broke to winger Peter McCann, who finished past Delaney and gave the Belfast club a glimmer of hope.
That was shattered as the visitors suffered a double blow after 31 minutes, when captain Paul Leeman blocked a shot by Shelbourne midfielder Stuart Byrne with his hand. That earned the Glentoran player a red card for his second bookable offence and led to a penalty for Shels, which Jason Byrne calmly converted to claim his third goal of the tie.
A win was beyond Glentoran at that stage but instead of sitting back, Shelbourne upped their performance after the break and scored two more goals. Glen Crowe netted his eighth goal in UEFA competition - a record for a player with an Irish club - with a superb volley on 57 minutes from a cross by Heary.
Captain Heary was the creator again on 71 minutes when Jason Byrne headed past Morris to make it 4-1 on the night and 6-2 on aggregate, a record win for an Irish club in the Champions League.