Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Leeman so desperate to hang onto Gibson Cup

Paul Leeman has already set a target for next season – trying to retain the JJB Sports Premiership title for only the third time in Glentoran's 127 year history.

The Glens sealed the Gibson Cup on Saturday thanks to a 3-1 victory over Cliftonville with goals from Dean Fitzgerald and Kyle Neill in the first half laying a platform for the party to kick off in east Belfast.

Substitute Matty Burrows sealed the win with a neat lob with 10 minutes remaining and not even a late consolation from ex-Glenman Rory Hamill could dampen the spirits of the 6,000-strong crowd.

And after lifting the famous trophy in front of his adoring fans, Leeman – who along with Colin Nixon really stepped up to the plate and turned in performances of supreme quality in the race towards the finishing line, despite being written off in some quarters – was already setting about plans for a second success on the bounce.

“It's a young squad – we've a few experienced players in there like Elliott Morris, Colin Nixon, Sean Ward, but we've got to kick on from here,” said the skipper.

“This club has only won back-to-back titles twice in it's history and that's what we have to be looking to achieve next season.”

It's been riveting season with the Big Two switching places at the top on a regular basis throughout the campaign and Leeman believes this has been the most difficult of his 11 years at Glentoran.

“All the boys are overjoyed,” he added. “It's been a really really tough season – the toughest season I can remember.

“We've been written off a few times this year but it brought us together in the changing room and that's what it's all about - that team spirit brought us over the line.

“There's no better feeling than winning the Gibson Cup and I really enjoyed it.

“Linfield have dominated and they've been the team to beat and we've been trying to catch them. This year everyone expected us to win the league after the run we went on last year. But Linfield are always going to be there or there abouts and it's just fantastic to beat them this year.”

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