Why did Larne midfielder John Heron have to gnash his teeth to secure Inver Park club European football? IG News

Why did Larne midfielder John Heron have to gnash his teeth to secure Inver Park club European football?

Larne midfielder John Heron has revealed how he played through painkillers to help the Inver Park club secure European football next season.

Heron, battling plantar fasciitis, made a surprise return as a half-time substitute in a dramatic play-off win over Glentoran on Friday night.

And despite being limp for the duration of the second half and battling an extra half hour of extra time, the 28-year-old helped Tyrone Lynch’s men to a 4-2 win.

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Before the weekend’s play-offs, Heron’s previous action came in a 0–0 draw with the Glens in a post-split fixture at the same venue on 19 April.

“I didn’t play or train for a few weeks and you probably noticed I was a little limp when I arrived,” said the former Celtic player.

“I was taking paracetamol for pain and recently found out I had Plantar Fasciitis on the bottom of my left foot. It has been excruciating.

“I managed to get out of the second half and extra time against Glentoran, but in five minutes I could feel it shooting through my leg.

“I couldn’t really run, but it was a matter of digging deep, gritting my teeth and trying to get results because the team is more important than the individual.

“If need be, I will do the same thing tomorrow. I am excited to see the club meet another year in Europe.”

Larne was trailing 2–0 at the Oval, only to send off Glens defender Paddy McLean and four goals from ‘supersub’ Ronan Hale to turn the tie on his head.

Hale’s fourth goal was to pick up the bunch, with the striker firing into an empty net from 75 yards when home keeper Aaron McCreery went for a last-gasp set-piece.

“It tells you a lot about the character of the boys,” Heron said. “We were down 2-0 against a good Glentoran team and the character and resilience we showed was fantastic.

“A lot of credit goes to Ronan. He is an extraordinary person and a great friend of mine and many people in Larne should be grateful for the attitude he has shown.

Larne celebrates Friday night’s European play-off win

“He’s been in and out of the team lately and he could easily throw toys out of the pram, but he’s not that kind of person.

“He has shown a lot of character, faith and mental strength to do what he has done.

“We were in the dressing room afterward singing ‘Only One Ronan Hale’ and he deserved it. He deserves a lot of praise for his performance.”

A win in Friday night’s play-off final secured Larne a spot in the Europa Conference League first qualifying round, which starts in July.

Read more: Chris McKee ready to return to Linfield after leaving Rangers

Read more: Glentoran star’s call-up at Northern Ireland camp comes as no surprise to Mick McDermott

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