Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Boxing Day massacre fired up Glentoran: McDonald

Glentoran boss Alan McDonald felt his side exorcised the ghost of Christmas past last night when they saw off bitter rivals Linfield to take their place at the top of the JJB Sports Premiership.

McDonald's men came under immense scrutiny after defeat to the Blues on Boxing Day in a match where they failed miserably to live up to their pre-season hype of title contenders as the champions brushed them aside at Windsor Park.

But that disappointing day was banished to the history books at the Oval last night thanks to goals from Gary Hamilton and Michael Halliday as the east Belfast men comfortably defeated an out-of-sorts Linfield side who lacked the hunger and will to win that has seen them come out on top in so many Big Two clashes in the past.

McDonald admitted that there was a lot of talk from the players about the Boxing Day massacre and he felt that had an impact on their performance last night.

“I know the players were very, very disappointed with the result on Boxing Day and a few of them didn't perform as well as they could have done. From that point of view, they felt that they had to go out and rectify that and they did that,” he said.

While Glentoran are now in pole position to pick up their first Gibson Cup in four years, McDonald doesn't feel that the victory in itself is enough to win the title, with the Belfast giants to meet again twice before the season is out.

“I am not being flippant, it was a big three points,” added the former Northern Ireland captain. “Linfield are the current champions and not by fluke. They are an extremely good team and very, very hard to beat and thankfully we beat them tonight - but they pushed us to the limit and we got the goals at the right time. It's a great win.

“This wasn't a championship decider though. We still have to play them twice this season and play the other top four teams in the country after the split so we have a lot of hard football to play until the end of the season.

Linfield boss David Jeffrey, meanwhile, may have said he wasn't playing mind games but he placed the emphasis on Newry City now – the team who the Glens play as their game in hand - and attempted to get them fired up.

“I'm not playing the psychological game but if Glentoran win their game in hand they are four points ahead,” said Jeffrey (pictured).

“They are away to Newry – Newry are in freefall now and I can't see Newry doing anything so I have got to accept the fact that they are four points ahead of us.

“What we can't afford to do is drop too many more points. You don't win the league by Linfield beating Glentoran or vice versa but we are looking at it that they are four points ahead.”

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