Belfast Telegraph

Ross Glendinning: NIFL's stance over Conor McCorry ban only fair

By Graham Luney

Ross Glendinning has sympathy with Lurgan Celtic regarding their goalkeeping crisis but he feels the Northern Ireland Football League were right not to re-arrange fixtures to clear a suspension.

The mid-Ulster minnows said this week they could ask an outfield player to don the goalkeeping gloves at Windsor Park in tomorrow's Tennent's Irish Cup semi-final against the Blues (3pm) following Conor McCorry's ban while back-up keeper Jamie McAtavey nurses a broken wrist.

McCorry is suspended after being sent off against Annagh last weekend and Celtic's attempts to arrange a Championship game against Larne to clear his ban were blocked by NIFL.

One possible solution for the club is to turn to Gavin O'Neill who was between the sticks for a League Cup game against Carrick Rangers.

But boss Colin Malone is still angry that league chiefs have left them struggling to find a No.1 ahead of the biggest match in the club's history.

Linfield stopper Glendinning, who was suspended for his side's quarter-final clash against Cliftonville at Solitude, has some sympathy but he doesn't believe rules should be broken to accommodate the club.

"I do have sympathy for Lurgan Celtic as a goalkeeper is a specialist position and while a lot of people might think they can do it, the reality can be very different," said the 22-year-old.

"When I was sent off against Glenavon at Windsor Park, Mark Haughey went into nets and he did well, even saving a penalty, but he said to me afterwards 'I don't know how you do that every week'.

"I think in a high-profile game such as this semi-final there are going to be nerves and you don't want to be asking a young kid to do the job. I was banned for the Cliftonville quarter-final which at that time was the biggest game of our season so I know how their goalkeeper is feeling.

"It's bad luck and he will be gutted but I also think it's fair and right that fixtures are not changed to clear suspensions.

"We've been reading about their goalkeeping problems this week but it won't distract us from the job that we need to do.

"It's important that we don't think they are vulnerable in any way and we must look after ourselves."

Linfield have been looking after themselves pretty well since their dark November, only losing two matches since then and winning their last five. Blues fan expect their side to fight for the title and the players have responded in emphatic fashion.

"The fear is that November has cost us big time and we will look back at that month as being pivotal," admitted Glendinning.

"There was a change of manager, we had a tough run of fixtures and the players needed a little time to gel but the important thing is that we are flying now, even blowing teams away.

"We've been solid at the back and lethal going forward. I think if you can keep a clean sheet it gives the team a great platform to build on and when you have guys like Andy Waterworth and even Aaron Burns in midfield you know the goals will come.

"The game was over at Warrenpoint after 25 minutes and it shows what we are capable of.

"Ross Gaynor has come in and done a superb job and there is a great understanding between the players. Wardy (Sean Ward) also does a lot of the dirty work in midfield that goes unnoticed.

"Points can be dropped in the run-in and we need to take advantage. Winning at Seaview next Saturday is a must for us. If we can do that then there could be another twist."

Belfast Telegraph


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