LOCAL success in European competition has been few and far between, but Coleraine have been lucky enough to experience a couple of special nights.
Dessie Dickson’s hat-trick against Kilmarnock will always have pride of place in club folklore, but a night in August 2003 isn’t far behind.
Marty Quinn’s Irish Cup winners welcomed Portuguese side UD Leiria to the Showgrounds. They had narrowly lost out to Portro in their own cup final and they were also on the end of another defeat in Northern Ireland.
Goals at the start of the first half and at the end of the half from Paul Gaston and Rory Hamill created a historic night for the Bannsiders. Many would have expected them to crumble when Joao Manuel equalised, but they showed great heart to hold on for the win.
“We had so much self-belief in ourselves and we had a real feeling we could cause an upset,” Marty told Times Sport.
“We had done our homework and knew their strengths and weaknesses going into the game. We put all that together with big hearts and came away with a deserved win on the night.
“We scored more goals against them than Porto did in their cup final final so that tells you everything you need to know about our performance on the night.”
Coleraine headed off to Portugal full of confidence and they almost went pulled off a major shock but for some controversial refereeing decisions.
Stephen Beatty was harshly sent off with only 23 minutes gone to make the Bannsiders task even tougher. To their credit they dug in. Even after Ludemar scored Quinn’s men were still in the tie and went close from Hamill and McAuley. In the end though Stewart Clabnachan’s dismissal and four more goals sealed a harsh defeat for Coleraine.