Glentoran's Halliday to make up for absent friends
Amid the celebrations following Glentoran’s momentous Setanta Sports Cup victory over Drogheda United on Monday night there was disappointment too.
Red cards for skipper Paul Leeman and match-winning goalscorer Jason Hill will rule them out of the showpiece decider next month.
And while all Glenmen — and the players’ team mates in particular — will mourn their absence from the final, Michael Halliday insists they will be very much in mind.
However, there will be no feeling sorry for themselves as they look to complete a hat-trick of wins over southern full-time opposition and emulate cross-city rivals Linfield in adding their name to the cup.
There is no shortage of incentive then and Halliday, who, like his team-mates, covered every inch of the United Park pitch, is keen to fly the flag for Northern Ireland.
“I thought Leeper’s sending off was a bit harsh, he said it was touch and go, and it’s hard on him and Jason (Hill) that they’ll miss the final,” he explained.
“I’m sure they’ll be devastated and they deserve a winner’s medal if we get one, but no matter who goes on that pitch we’ll be busting to win it.
“Southern teams have dominated the competition for a long time and being in the final is great but we want to win it and show that Irish League clubs have plenty to offer in it.”
It was a night for stout hearts on a lung-busting evening and while they strained every sinew, off the field, the fans’ nerves were fraying at the seams as the cup holders turned up the heat. Halliday though was oblivious to that.
“The nerves are before the game, during the game you’re just too busy,” he added.
“I think we started well and had the better of the chances in the first-half but we knew in the second-half that they were going to come out and have a real go. I thought that once they missed the penalty it was going to be our night.
“It has been a great achievement to get there because in our last two games we’ve beaten full-time opposition.
“I think we considered St. Pat’s to be a better team than Drogheda, because they have the likes of Fahey and Quigley who are outstanding players.”
On their last two displays, the Glens can rightly lay claim to that accolade too.