Football/Soccer

Glentoran well ahead of schedule: boss Mick McDermott

The Glentoran players celebrate Monday night's Irish Cup semi-final win over Cliftonville
James Henderson

Sadler’s Peaky Blinders Irish Cup final: Glentoran v Ballymena United (tonight, Windsor Park, 8pm)

GLENTORAN manager Mick McDermott says the project at the Oval is way ahead of schedule and being in the Irish Cup final is a bonus.

McDermott took over as boss on March 31, 2019. At the time many Glentoran fans were outraged, feeling his predecessor and Oval legend Gary Smyth had been unfairly ousted.

Over the last 16 months, however, McDermott has become a firm favourite with the Glens faithful. Results on the pitch have improved and more importantly the financial future of the club has been secured thanks to last year's takeover and investment of his friend and businessman Ali Pour, who will attend tonight's decider with Ballymena United at Windsor Park.

A trophy success this evening would be more evidence that the east Belfast outfit are moving forward after years of worry for the fans who, at times, feared the club would go out of business.

McDermott believes in the team he has built but is quick to rubbish the suggestion from Ballymena counterpart David Jeffrey that Glentoran are heavy favourites.

"Our club was struggling financially and it was in ever-decreasing circles if you want to put it that way. It was a downward spiral," said McDermott.

“The people who were running it were doing their best but for us to get to a final in year one was not one of our goals. To get there is a bonus and to pick up the trophy would be a massive achievement, just to show the fans we are moving in the right direction and the rewards that go with it in terms of European football would be brilliant.

“If we win the Cup it is likely to put us on a different trajectory but I don’t buy Ballymena being clear underdogs. You don’t become the favourite for performing well for a bit. We have accomplished nothing.

"Nobody will remember in 10 years time that we were in the final in 2020 if we don’t win it.

“My players will not be preparing like we are clear favourites. When I look into my players’ eyes I see boys hungry to win this. They won't take their foot off the pedal but be under no illusions, Ballymena have a good squad. It’s a team who won a game in Europe last year and finished second in the league recently against a club who haven’t won a trophy since 2015. That's how I'm looking at it."

Earlier in the summer Glentoran and McDermott were in favour of sharing money around Irish League clubs gained from European qualification. With a possible £250,000 up for grabs via Europa League cash for the winners McDermott was asked for his thoughts on the matter. Linfield, who are going into the Champions League, and Coleraine, entering the Europa League, were against the idea of splitting funds.

“It hasn’t come up in any discussions or within our own board or even other clubs," said McDermott.

“The tell-tale thing on that would be what the other two clubs do. Would Uefa approve it if one club wanted to do it, I don’t know. I think if all three clubs went to Uefa and said they’d like to share the money based on solidarity and helping out our smaller clubs, I can’t see Uefa saying no, but at a board level we’d have to have consensus. It would be a good discussion."

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Football/Soccer