Tiernan Lynch’s Invermen made history on Saturday night at Inver Park, becoming the first Larne side ever to qualify for Europe.
They managed the feat with a 3-1 victory over Cliftonville, a result which clinched qualification in this summer’s inaugural Europa Conference League.
The draw for the first round of qualifying takes place on Tuesday 15th June, with the first leg kicking off on Thursday 8th July.
At the other end Andy Mitchell had a go from 25 yards with a swerving effort which Cliftonville keeper Aaron McCarey turned over.
Both sides started with real purpose and the first chance fell to the visitors when Ryan Curran headed over from Senna Foster’s inviting right wing cross.
Larne threatened again midway through the first half when, following a succession of Martin Donnelly corners, John Herron sent a header just the wrong side of an upright.
However, Tiernan Lynch’s side did make the breakthrough just after the half-hour mark. Another Donnelly corner fell again for Herron but when his shot was blocked it reached David McDaid who, with an instinctive first time reaction, fired the ball into the far corner.
The home side came close again towards the end of the half when Ronan Hale was just inches away from doubling their lead with an effort just over from the edge of the box.
For Cliftonville Rory Hale might have levelled with a curling shot which was deflected just wide before play switched again for Ronan to attempt an ambitious overhead kick which wasn’t far away from finding the target.
The visitors came storming out of the blocks after the break with Daire O’Connor offering up an early chance which produced a low save from Conor Mitchell before, not long after that, Kris Lowe saw an effort blocked by Albert Watson.
Cliftonville deservedly got back on level terms just before the hour with a superb finish from O’Connor who cut inside, outpaced Fuad Sule and, from around 25 yards, fired an unstoppable effort into the top right corner.
But Larne regained the advantage just five minutes after that. A long ball forward reached McDaid inside the area, he backheeled it to Herron who duly returned it for McDaid to then deliver it low across the edge of the box for the incoming Lee Lynch to stab it home at the far post.
There might have been a third as the game drifted into the final 20 minutes when McDaid was thwarted by a perfectly timed Jamie Harney tackle before Donnelly then fired over a minute later.
However, Larne’s third goal did arrive with ten minutes remaining. McDaid, after scoring the first and setting up the second, doubled his tally with a tap in after Mark Randall sent over a low cross into the box.
Larne: C. Mitchell, Watson, Robinson, Herron, Hale, McDaid, Donnelly, Lynch, A. Mitchell, Cosgrove, Jarvis subs Sule (replaced Hale 54), Randall (replaced Herron 65), Scott (not used), McKendry (not used), Wade Slater (not used), McMurray (not used), Lusty (replaced McDaid 90+2)
Cliftonville: McCarey, Ives, Harney, C. Curran, O’Connor, R. Curran, Foster, Donnelly, Bagnall, Hale, Lowe subs Dunne (not used), McCrudden (replaced O’Connor 78), Doherty (not used), Gormley (replaced R. Curran 73), Casey (not used), O’Neill (replaced Bagnall 46), Coffey (not used)
Referee: Tim Marshall