Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Glentoran star Gawley goes Blues-baiting

Neal Gawley believes that Glentoran can still wrestle the Premiership title off Linfield.

Glentoran winger Neil Gawley last night claimed that the Oval outfit are ‘as good as, if not better' than Linfield.

And that is why the winger insists that the east-Belfast men still haven't given up the chase for the Carling Premiership title.

On the face of it, it appears that officials can save themselves the bother of replacing the blue ribbons on the Gibson Cup, as champions Linfield opened up a 12 point lead — 14 ahead of the Glens — at the top of the table on Tuesday with victory over Glenavon.

Former Distillery star Gawley believes a tight title race is still on the cards, if Scott Young's side can just hang onto their coat tails by the time the split in the league comes around.

According to Gawley — who in the midweek Irish Cup win over Ballymena United made his first start since coming off injured against Portadown on November 20 — there are too many games yet to be played before anyone at the Oval will consider throwing in the towel.

And the Glens title bid is set to be boosted by the arrival of striker Richard Gibson.

The 26-year-old had initially made a pre-contract agreement to move to the Oval from Ballymena United, but Sky Blues boss Roy Walker decided that he no longer wanted Gibson and has released him from his contract.

The Glens are now hoping to have him on-board in time to face Lisburn Distillery at Ballyskeagh tomorrow.

“There are still 15 games to go, 45 points to be played for, so there is no way we are going to just give up now,” said Gawley.

“You are obviously relying on other things going your way, but anything can happen over those games, you just can't give up the fight now.

“We are 14 points behind, but we have two games in hand over Linfield and if we win those we are eight points off them again.

“We still have to play them twice as well so that's another six points available to eat into their lead.

“I thought the boys were really unlucky against them last week and we deserved to get at least a point from the game.

“We absolutely battered them in the County Antrim Shield final as well so I think we have proven that we are every bit as good, if not better, than they are so it's just about putting a run together and trying to keep in touch with them.

“You never know, they could have another blip like we did and suddenly we are right back in the frame. As long as we can stay in touch by the time the split comes anything can happen then — you will have five very tough games.”

Gawley is hoping to keep his place in the team for the trip to his old club, Lisburn Distillery tomorrow, despite admitting that he is still not 100 per cent fit, after playing 77 minutes of the cup win over Ballymena United.

It's likely Gawley will play some part tomorrow and he's hoping a for a team performance more akin to that on the opening day of the campaign, when the Glens were 6-1 winners at Ballyskeagh, rather than the October affair at the Oval, which the Whites won 3-1.

“It'll be a difficult match because although Distillery are a bit inconsistent but they have shown they can beat anyone on their day,” he added.

“We owe them one from beating us at the Oval – we were very poor that day but on the other hand we were brilliant on the opening day up there so hopefully we can repeat that performance, get a few goals on the board and start on a but of a run ourselves.”

Gibson played his last game for Ballymena in Tuesday's JJB Sports Irish Cup defeat to the Glens, notably missing a couple of great chances to score near the end.

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