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Battling Linfield hand Glentoran a lesson in passion

The disparity in the moods of the two rivals managers at The Oval on Saturday could not have been more apparent, yet they both spoke about the same things.

The difference was, one wanted what the other had.

Linfield boss David Jeffrey hailed his players for their grit and determination in dumping Glentoran out of the JJB Sports Irish Cup with a 3-1 victory after a week in which the battle lines had been well and truly drawn on the east side of Belfast.

When Scott Young was officially unveiled as the new Glens boss this week it was he who spoke about having his players come out fighting, bringing pride and passion back to the badge that he felt has been sullied by consistently abject performances.

Linfield were prepared for that but as it turned out, they didn’t really have to be as the home side bottled it and merely continued where they left off under Alan McDonald.

It seems the Blues listened to Young’s comments more than his own players did and Jeffrey was bursting with his own sense of pride — offering his unique take on the battle that was being hyped up as the game drew closer.

“It was a strange week, with Alan (McDonald) leaving and Scott taking over and there was a lot of talk of pride and shirts and passion and it was very important that my players didn’t get caught up in any of it,” said Jeffrey.

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“I can genuinely, honestly say that this was not about beating Glentoran per se, or getting one over on Glentoran or getting one over on Scott Young — that was not the case.

“I think in some ways that made good reading in the press and that’s the way it was built up.

“But the simple message to my players was that this was an Irish Cup quarter final and we want to progress to the semi-finals.

“It was vitally important that we didn’t allow ourselves to get caught up in all the emotion of what was being said.

“By the same token we had to be very conscious of the fact that

they were going to be coming out very fired up.

“There was analogies like, ‘war starts at 3 o’clock’ — certainly my players were outstanding because their rifles were fixed, their bayonets were on, they went out over the top, they left their trenches and they didn’t come back in again and there was no neutral ground.

“I am desparately proud of them, I thought they were magnificent. Physically they were very strong and I thought from a football point if view they were superb and the quality of the performance was outstanding.”

Jeffrey added: “I expected them (Glentoran) to be fired up and I said it publicly that that would be the case.

“You could tell that because they had the music pumped up and their line was pumped up.

“But this match was, in my mind, only about my own players and I am massively proud of them.

“They are a very talented group technically, they are astute, physically they work very, very hard but the one area they have got to grow is emotionally and mentally and how they deal with situations.”

While Jeffrey feels that his players have still to mature mentally, it was that exact trait that Young admitted he was jealous of at the end of the game, and he had every right to feel envious.

The Glens had been looking reasonably comfortable — arguably the team most likely to score — until the 14th minute when Robert Garrett was given too much time and space to pick his spot with a well struck shot that Elliott Morris should have saved.

From there the Glens got shaky and Morris fumbled an Aaron Burns cross allowing Philip Lowry to take a touch before firing home number two.

That was game over really because the east Belfast men lacked the hunger to get themselves back into the game and when Jamie Mulgrew — who ran the show in the middle of the park — breezed to the edge of the box and toe poked in it threatened to become a real embarrassment for the Glens.

As it turned out Keith Gillespie headed in to offer some hope, but again they didn’t want it enough.

Linfield did and deservedly breezed into the last four.


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