Football/Soccer

Ruaidhri Donnelly set to hit new heights says Glentoran boss Mick McDermott

Glentoran's Ruaidhri Donnelly leaps above the defenders to score against Portadown in the Danske Bank Premiership game at The Oval, Belfast on Saturday April 3 2021. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
David Alexander

MANAGER Mick McDermott believes Glentoran fans are about to see the best of Ruaidhri Donnelly.

The 29-year-old former Cliftonville striker was in sizzling form at the weekend, bagging two goals in the East Belfast team’s 4-0 thumping of Portadown at the Oval.

McDermott will be hoping the trend continues when he takes his team up the M2 to face David Jeffrey’s Ballymena United at the Warden Street Showgrounds.

Glentoran’s victory on Saturday – their fourth on the bounce – inched them to within three points of second-placed Coleraine in the Danske Bank Premiership table, so they are still very much in the title frame.

“Ruaidhri had a difficult time when he came to us in January last year,” said McDemott. “He only played a handful of games before lockdown. He was brilliant for us before he then picked up an injury, it was a neck problem, which took him some time to recover from.

“Now we are seeing the real Ruaidhri Donnelly . . . he’s a brilliant lad and he’s playing with a smile on his face again. He’s so positive, he probably puts pressure on himself because he wants to do well, but for me, he’s been brilliant since he came here.”

McDermott admits it will not be easy against a side that won at the Oval last month – the first time his team had lost on home soil for 12 months.

“Ballymena beat us at the Oval a few weeks back, so we know what to expect,” added the Glentoran chief. “They are a talented team . . . they are well organised and well-managed.

“They are always a difficult to break down . . . I watched their game against Crusaders on Friday night, they were very resilient, although over the 90 minutes I think the Crues deserved to win.

“It could well have finished in a draw, only Ballymena missed a penalty late on. But prior to that result, they had been on a great run, going something like 10 games unbeaten.

“Even though they have had injuries, the players that have stepped in know the system well. We are expecting a tough, tough game – but they are all tough.”

McDermott will have a full-strength squad to choose from, apart from January signing from Cliftonville Conor McMenamin, who is out with a toe injury.

He added: “There are a lot of games coming up and the good thing is, the squad is almost 100 per cent healthy, apart from Conor.

“We have a big squad which is needed in this League. I was pleased to see Andy Mitchell score his first goal for the club at the weekend. He has had a tough time since joining us from Glenavon with injuries and stuff.

“It’s such a hard place to be as a forward because there is great competition for places. He inflamed his groin in the County Antrim Shield final. It was one of those irritating injuries and he couldn’t get back. Thankfully, our physio worked wonders with him.

“I was delighted for him and hopefully he can now go on and show the form we know he is capable of.”

 

Glentoran's Ruaidhri Donnelly celebrates after scoring against Portadown in the Danske Bank Premiership game at The Oval, Belfast on Saturday April 3 2021. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

 

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Football/Soccer