Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Clarke closer than ever to that big win

Richard Clarke's impressive goal return is the evidence he is enjoying the best season of his career.

The Glentoran midfielder's stunning finish against Crusaders in the Premiership last Saturday was his 10th league goal of the campaign, but he wants a more tangible reward.

And for the Castlederg man that means an Irish Cup winner's medal.

There are two major barriers in his way though.

Firstly, Portadown in the semi-final at Windsor Park today and then, if successful, either champions-in-waiting Cliftonville or likely title runners-up Crusaders in the decider on Saturday, May 4.

Now is the time when the Glentoran players need to rise to the occasion.

If, however, Clarke can continue his form in front of goal then there is every chance that he will fulfil his knockout dream.

"Up until Christmas I was in and out of the team, but over the last few months I've been a regular and I am playing now in a position which I enjoy," said Clarke.

"It's my job to find and supply Andy Waterworth and we're working well together.

"We have a good understanding.

"It's the best season I have had at Glentoran – and definitely the best in terms of goals. That was an aspect of my game I really wanted to improve on – it takes some of the pressure off the frontmen.

"I scored 19 in one season at Newry, when I was playing in a similar position, so I don't think it's a coincidence."

Clarke joined the Glens in the summer of 2009 when they were on a high after winning the league title under Alan McDonald.

The carrot for him when he was leaving Newry City – he had his pick of a number of clubs at the time – was the opportunity to win medals.

The major success that he has craved since entering the Irish League scene as a teenager with Omagh Town, however, has so far eluded the 27-year-old.

And that's why there is a determination and hunger to finally end that wait within the next few weeks.

"The reason I joined Glentoran was to compete for major trophies," said Clarke. "The club has a proud history of that and long may that continue.

"We haven't been able to compete in the league and we haven't been this far in the Irish Cup before, but this is a big chance for us to win it after a long time.

"I've won the League Cup and the County Antrim Shield with Glentoran, but I am still missing a medal in one of the big competitions."

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