Belfast Telegraph

Glens boss McDermott is eager to add to his fond memories of hot rivalry

First timer: Mick McDermott has yet to manage Big Two game
First timer: Mick McDermott has yet to manage Big Two game

By Steven Beacom

Mick McDermott's earliest experiences of Big Two derbies go way back. He remembers the days when fans from Glentoran and Linfield would climb up to the rafters at The Oval and throw missiles at each other.

Don't expect that sort of behaviour at Windsor Park this afternoon for the first meeting between the pair this season, but the atmosphere is sure to be red-hot, with a large and passionate crowd in attendance.

While Linfield have been making headlines with their European exploits this season, Glentoran are making waves themselves having moved into third place in the league and won five games in a row in all competitions.

There's a long, long way to go, however, and today's clash with the champions will offer an indication into how far the Glens have come since the much-publicised takeover of the club in the summer.

McDermott (45) is relishing the chance to manage the Glens against the Blues for the first time. He has been reflecting on days gone by when a family connection and watching a former Northern Ireland international took him to the Belfast derby.

"My sister was married to George O'Boyle and I remember going to watch Geordie play at The Oval for Linfield against the Glens," stated McDermott.

"Not that I went to a lot of Irish League matches back then, but I always went to the Linfield v Glentoran games.

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"I recall standing on the terraces with mad men up in the rafters throwing wood at each other. That was my first taste.

"I remember meeting on the Shankill Road, walking into the centre of town and meeting at the back of the Crown Bar and then walking through the city and over the bridge and watching the games.

"I had a feeling for what it was like because George was part of the family for so long.

"Now I can't wait for the first Big Two derby of this season and managing Glentoran against Linfield. It's a huge occasion and obviously very important for our fans."

Glentoran will enter the game five points clear of their fiercest rivals, though Linfield have three games in hand.

Domestic bliss is the first aim for McDermott, but he says his ultimate ambition is to follow Linfield's excellent example in Europe and make it through several rounds, and even go one better and qualify for the group stages.

That is a dream for the future. Today, it will all be about competing against David Healy's side.

"We have to be competitive. Whether we are playing at Windsor or Seaview or anywhere, we have to be competitive. We want results, but if we don't get results the other team have to earn it," said McDermott.

Defensively, the Glens will have to cope with the pace of Northern Ireland striker Shayne Lavery today.

At the other end, Robbie McDaid and Paul O'Neill will be out to cause problems, and the middle of the park battle between John Herron and Blues skipper Jamie Mulgrew will be crucial to the outcome.

Belfast Telegraph

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