Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran now switching their sights to Euro jackpot

By Graham Luney

Glentoran may have just progressed to their second Irish Cup final in three seasons but Eddie Patterson has challenged his players to demonstrate a real competitive edge in the remaining fixtures.

Players will be fighting to secure cherished places in the squad for the end of season showpiece against Portadown but, more importantly, the club is still pursuing the juicy carrot of European qualification.

Europa League action and the funding it will generate would significantly enhance Glentoran's hopes of transforming the club into a title chasing machine.

The Glens welcome Dungannon Swifts to The Oval tomorrow with fourth placed Cliftonville in their sights. The gap between the sides is only three points.

"There's still the two doors to European football open to us," said Patterson.

"We wanted those doors through the league and cup to be kept open and massive credit to the boys. It keeps the whole squad on their toes for the next six league games because there are massive points to play for and it would be fantastic if we could secure our place in Europe before the Irish Cup final.

"That would be another fantastic achievement for the lads and that incentive is there for them. It could have been a different scenario had we lost against Crusaders in the semi-final. It could have knocked the stuffing out of a few guys. It keeps us competitive until the end of the season and those performing will keep the shirt."

Curtis Allen's first-half strike was enough to give Glentoran a 1-0 victory over Crusaders in last weekend's Irish Cup semi-final. Before the Mourneview Park battle, Glentoran had won just one of their previous 14 meetings with the Crues.

"The (financial) cuts were hitting in after the Irish Cup win in 2013 and a lot of the experienced players had to leave the club," added Patterson.

"Young lads were given an opportunity and the semi-final win over Crusaders was another opportunity for those boys to gain more experience and mature.

"It's probably the first time I've seen our boys not be bullied by the Crues or other big teams. It augers well for the future."

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