Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Glentoran's congestion fear

It wasn't how most people expected the new glitzy brand of football here to kick-off, but tomorrow night at the Oval – all being well – Glentoran will play their first 90 minutes of the new season against north Belfast minnows Newington YC.

During the summer months, Glens' fans will have been thinking that by this stage they will have been able to gauge whether the talk that their team are real challengers for the Gibson Cup is really warranted.

However, due to last week's referees' strike and then the horrendous weather that landed on the country on Saturday, no one is any wiser as to how Alan McDonald's side will do this season.

Their game with Glenavon was abandoned in the 14th minute – and rightly so.

Referee Trevor Moutray, to his credit, tried to have the game played – obviously conscious of the fact that with no football played last week either, the natives, and everyone else involved in football here, would be getting restless.

Unfortunately his hope that the rain would pass didn't bear fruit and so 14 minutes of football with no controversies on the pitch – no goals, no cards, no action, it was easy for Moutray to call it quits, especially as what fans were treated to looked more like something from It's a Knock-out than a top flight football game.

The problem now though is when these games are going to be played – and exactly what impact will they have when the trophies are being handed out at the end of the season.

Glentoran, like rivals Linfield and Cliftonville, have Setanta Sports Cup games coming up on top of those much maligned County Antrim Shield games.

It's going to be a very busy season indeed, a point that McDonald was well aware of.

“It is going to be very difficult to try and fit it all in – we are only a couple of weeks into the new season and already we are looking at fixture congestion,” he said.

“We have a County Antrim Shield game on Tuesday night to deal with and then the Setanta Cup games are coming up very soon.

“The players just want to get off and running. Unfortunately we've had this two weeks in a row now and we just want to play football.

“When the games are going to be played is something I just don't know, so we'll just have to wait and see when they are scheduled for.

“It's not an ideal position to be in – the games are going to pile up but other teams will have the same problem and it's just something that we are going to have to deal with.”

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