Published Saturday, 11 August 2012
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The three minutes stoppage time were almost up when a clear hand ball in the box left the referee with no option but to award a penalty.
Reds captain Chris Scannell, who had just come on as a substitute, stepped up and calmly dispatched the spot-kick.
The drama wasn't over even then as Glenavon were awarded a free kick immediately after the restart and they threw all 10 outfield players into the box.
Goalkeeper Andy Coleman launched the ball goalwards but it was hoofed into the metaphorical row 'z' by the home defence and the final whistle sounded immediately afterwards.
Cue scenes of wild celebration from the Cliftonville players and sheer dejection from the visitors who had played their part in an absorbing 90 minutes plus stoppage time.
Glenavon had taken an early lead through Sean McCashin only for Liam Boyce to bundle in the equaliser shortly before the break.
So a fabulously exciting start to the new season and a game which from a neutral perspective illustrated all that is good about the local game.
For example, the sportsmanship of the home spectators who clapped the vanquished Glenavon players off the pitch - a gesture which was clearly appreciated as they reciprocated the applause.
Moments earlier, Glenavon player-coach Gary Hamilton had insisted his players acknowledge their own fans - 112 of them to be exact - who had made plenty of noise from the far end of the ground.
One of the many appealing aspects of Irish League football is that you can get up close and personal to the players, very often to the extent that you can hear what they say on the pitch.
Hamilton, for example, smiled as he went over to take a corner in the second half and joked with a home steward who had pointed out that he had placed the ball outside the 'd.' "Call yourself a professional footballer, that's illegal, Gary !"
Then a home player gave off bucket loads to his goalkeeper whom he berated after a McCashin header went narrowly wide at 1-1: "I would prefer if you showed a more commanding presence within your own six yard box," he suggested. Well words to that effect anyway!
So a thoroughly enjoyable game and I thought Glenavon were a shade unfortunate not to have held on for a point.
On this form, it's hard to see the Lurgan Blues occupying bottom place in the table like they did for so long last season especially as they were missing a host of players for one reason or another.
With Linfield falling to a surprise defeat at Ballymena, the Reds are now joint top of the table after match day one and surely will be among the sides who can threaten the Blues' ambitions of making it a magnificent seven titles in a row.
Irish League football is back with a bang. Roll on next week!