Nine months after Glentoran II beat Ards in the Steel & Sons Cup final, only to have the trophy taken from them after fielding an ineligible player, they are on the road to glory again.
The squad is almost entirely different, but the aim remains the same — to get to Seaview for the Christmas morning final. With the new players still getting acquainted with each other, that may well be a tall order, but the Wee Glens booked their place in this year’s last 16 with a 3-0 third round victory over St Pat’s YM on Saturday.
Ryan Spiers’ header from a Ross Stewart cross and a brace from Mark Hillen made for a one-sided scoreline, but winning manager Spike Hill stressed they didn’t have everything their own way.
He told The Park: “I would say 3-0 didn’t fairly reflect the game. It may sound like a hiding, but it wasn’t — our big goalkeeper Aaron Hogg had to make a good few saves.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game, as they are a good side. Three promotions in three years tells you that.
“It was a good time to get a result like that, as we haven’t started too brightly in the league. We have a young team, and it will take time for everything to click for us.”
In the meantime, one team who really are in full flow are east Belfast neighbours Dundela. The Belfast Telegraph Championship One leaders scored a mammoth 6-3 away win over Lisburn Rangers on Saturday.
And Hill is surely not alone in his assessment that the Duns must be among the firmest of favourites to lift the trophy in late December.
He said: “I’m really pleased for Mark Snodden (Dundela boss). I would suggest they’d be right up there with the teams who have a great chance of winning the Steel & Sons Cup this year.
“We actually call them the Glentoran Reserves Reserves, because they have five or six of our boys from last season — so if we don’t win it, it would be great to see them do it.”
One would naturally assume that after the heartbreak of last season’s cup final debacle, Hill would be even more driven than ever to make a success of it this time around.
However, he has long put the past behind him, and is keen to put all his attention on the current crop at the Oval, who may be young, but are full of potential.
The Glentoran II gaffer stated: “That is yesterday’s fish and chips now. My favourite quote from the time still applies — they can take away the trophy, but they will never take away our memories.
“Listen, the rules were broken, and we had to accept the consequences. This is a new team, and a new season, so we’ll just see where it takes us.
“At the minute we have a development plan in place, with the likes of young Jordan Stewart there away in Austria playing for the Under-19s last week. Those sort of things are our trophies, and really, they always have been.”
It was an eventful enough day elsewhere in the Steel & Sons Cup, with Kilmore Rec turning over Championship Two opponents PSNI at Newforge, thanks to a double from Peter Telford.
Crumlin United appeared to be about to spring the upset of the day as they led 2-0 against Bangor, but the Division 1A side eventually succumbed to a late onslaught with the Seasiders running out eventual 5-2 winners.
Other Championship sides also made heavy weather of their encounters, with Knockbreda leaving it to extra time to record a 3-0 victory over Dromara Village, while at Inver Park, Larne crashed out to Cliftonville Olympic, who won 3-2 in extra time.
Aside from the Steel Cup, Saturday also saw the start of the first round matches in the Junior Cup take place.
Mid Ulster Division 1 side Silverwood United won by the day’s greatest margin, thumping eight past Magherafelt Sky Blues Reserves without reply.
For all the weekend’s scores and more, see our results and tables section.