Belfast Telegraph

Glens will have no fear at Mourneview: McDermott


Big chance: Mick McDermott would relish a crack at Europe
Big chance: Mick McDermott would relish a crack at Europe

By Steven Beacom

Gary Hamilton has always been consistent in his views. The Glenavon manager has never been a fan of the European play-offs.

In contrast, his opposite number at Mourneview Park tonight, Glentoran boss Mick McDermott, is relishing being able to take part in a tie that could lead to Europa League qualification and over £200k coming to the club.

That figure may be dwarfed by the potential money arriving at The Oval courtesy of entrepreneur Ali Shams Mohammad Pour who wants to take over the club, but everyone involved with Glentoran knows it is not to be sniffed at.

There's also Glentoran's proud European history to consider.

McDermott started work on his Pro Licence coaching certificate this week which allows him to manage in Europe and was a key reason in him replacing Gary Smyth earlier in the season.

The situation regarding Smyth and his assistant Paul Leeman has yet to be resolved but on the pitch McDermott is looking to secure victory and a big performance from his side in Lurgan in this evening's play-off semi-final.

The Glens may have finished seventh in the league compared to Glenavon's third but the visitors fancy their chances with Curtis Allen, Robbie McDaid and Darren Murray all capable of delivering in attack.

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McDermott said: "Glenavon have had a great season and gained a record number of Premiership points but we're on a good unbeaten run and the players won't have any fears."

The Glens boss will also be encouraged that his players enjoy playing at Mourneview. There is also the Paul Millar factor. He started the season as Hamilton's No.2 and is ending it in the same role at The Oval, offering McDermott valuable insight into the Lurgan Blues.

McDermott has also had his friend and former Croatian goalkeeper Tomislav Butina at training in the run-up to the Glenavon game passing on advice to Elliott Morris, Dwayne Nelson and the club's goalkeepers.

Despite all that, though, Hamilton's team will still start as favourites. They began the season in sensational style and ended it in similar fashion.

Finishing third was quite an achievement given the backroom switches which saw Millar move to Glentoran and Kris Lindsay become Dungannon boss. Throw in inspirational performers Mark Sykes and Ben Doherty leaving around Christmas and it has been an eventful campaign.

With key players like Jonny Tuffey, Andy Hall, Josh Daniels and Stephen Murray in fine form, Hamilton will want to climax this season on a high.

"The play-offs are horrible and a lottery," he said. "But hopefully the boys can play as well as they have been and if that happens we have a chance to beat anyone."

Belfast Telegraph


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