Irish Premiership: Glens beat Newry as Ballymena & Swifts earn first wins

Niall McGinn hit a double as Glentoran defeated Newry City 4-2 to move level on points with leaders Linfield.

Daire O'Connor and Shay McCartan were also on target for the Glens at the Showgrounds on Saturday evening.

Ballymena United and Dungannon Swifts had plenty to cheer after registering their first league wins of the season.

Isaac Westendorf's penalty gave United a 1-0 win at Carrick while Ben Gallagher scored after 11 seconds as the Swifts beat Glenavon 3-1.

Dungannon, who had two points on the board before Saturday's game, took a very, very early lead at Stangmore Park.

Debutant Gael Bigiramana found Gallagher as the Glenavon defence backed off he duly fired home from just outside the area past a helpless Rory Brown.

The Swifts lead didn't last long as three minutes later Jackson Nesbitt opened his account in a Glenavon shirt - the forward pressed a reluctant Niall Morgan in goal, dispossessing the Tyrone GAA stopper and slotting into an empty goal to bring Gary Hamilton's men level.

Rodney McAree's side restored their lead on the 56th minute when substitute Niall Owens dispossessed Stephen Teggart before crossing low for the supporting Thomas Maguire to slot home on his league debut.

Things went from bad to worse for Gary Hamitlon's side after Jamie McDonagh was given a straight red on 67 minutes following an elbow on Adam Glenney that resulted in the defender requiring treatment.

The third came with 10 minutes remaining - Owens was again the provider, picking out Matty Lusty inside the penalty area and allowing the Larne loanee to volley home first time.

Sky Blues off the mark

After a slow opening, Ballymena grabbed the lead from the penalty spot on 26 minutes at the Loughview Leisure Arena.

Debutant Westendorf headed on Fraser Taylor's ball forward and then chased the ball himself before luring Albert Watson into a foul on the edge of the penalty area.

Westendorf picked himself up and squeezed the resultant spot-kick under the body of Ross Glendinning.

Nedas Maciulaitis forced Ballymena keeper Sean O'Neill into a smart stop with a fierce drive from the edge of the penalty area.

Ballymena almost added a second when Taylor ran onto a through ball and skipped past Reece Glendinning, only to be denied by a smart block from the defender's brother, Ross, in goal.

In a poor second half Curtis Allen came close to levelling for Carrick with a sharp turn and shot which was well saved low down by O'Neill.

Remarkably, it's first time Ballymena have won a league game away from home since November of last year.

McGinn at the double for Glens

Glentoran are up to second in the Premiership thanks to this hard-earned win at Newry.

Two goals from the in-form Niall McGinn, one from Daire O'Connor and a penalty from Shay McCartan got them over the line against the border club, whose goals came from Ciaran O'Connor and Daniel Hughes.

Former NI international McGinn gave the visitors the perfect start, sweeping home from 12 yards in the 12th minute after good work from O'Connor.

O'Connor drew the hosts level after 32 minutes, outstripping the Glens defence to bury his shot low into the bottom corner.

McGinn scored his second of the game eight minutes before half-time, volleying low into the net from a narrow angle despite the best efforts of Tom Murph.

But back came Newry again - great work from Lorcan Forde saw him get to the by line before pulling the ball back into the path of Hughes, who finished smartly in time added on at the end of the first half.

O'Connor restored Glentoran's lead 10 minutes after half-time with a cool finish from a Niall McGinn assist and the game was effectively over just after the hour.

Referee Shane Andrews adjudged a Newry defender to have handled the ball inside the box and McCartan made no mistake from the penalty spot to seal the win.