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'Glentoran are back': Irish Cup hero Robbie McDaid issues rallying cry after landmark success

 

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Winning goal-scorer Robbie McDaid celebrates with the Irish Cup.

Winning goal-scorer Robbie McDaid celebrates with the Irish Cup.

William Cherry/Presseye

Glentoran's Robbie McDaid celebrates scoring the winning goal in the Irish Cup final.

Glentoran's Robbie McDaid celebrates scoring the winning goal in the Irish Cup final.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 31st July 2020 - 

Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park - Ballymena United FC v Glentoran FC. 

GlentoranÕs Robbie McDaid celebrates after he scores to make it 2-1 in the last minutes of extra time.

Photo by Jonathan Porter Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 31st July 2020 - Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Final at the National Football Stadium at Windsor Park - Ballymena United FC v Glentoran FC. GlentoranÕs Robbie McDaid celebrates after he scores to make it 2-1 in the last minutes of extra time. Photo by Jonathan Porter Press Eye.

Pacemaker - Belfast -  -31/07/2020.        
Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup. Final 
Glentoran's Robbie McDaid celebrates his goal and winning In tonight's game    
 Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Pacemaker - Belfast - -31/07/2020. Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup. Final Glentoran's Robbie McDaid celebrates his goal and winning In tonight's game Photo Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

Winning goal-scorer Robbie McDaid celebrates with the Irish Cup.

Irish Cup hero Robbie McDaid has issued a warning to the rest of the Irish League: 'Glentoran are back'.

The 23-year-old struck his sixth goal of this season's cup campaign at the perfect time, deep into extra-time at the end of a tight final battle with Ballymena United.

It proved enough to secure a 2-1 success and win the club's first trophy since 2015, when they won the same competition.

It's a landmark night for owner Ali Pour and manager Mick McDermott, who arrived last year with a vision of restoring the fallen member of Belfast's Big Two back to the top of Irish League football.

Now McDaid says that the Irish Cup success indicates the project is well on track.

"It's hard to sum up what I'm feeling right now," he told BBC. "It's crazy. We set out at the start of the year and we just wanted to be competitive - to show people that we're back. I think winning this trophy is a massive statement that Glentoran are back."

It had been a difficult start to the game for the Glens as Ballymena dominated the opening exchanges until the first-half water break allowed the east Belfast side to resettle.

Just seconds later, Paul O'Neill caressed the opening goal into the bottom corner.

"Mick just told us to settle down," said McDaid about the discussions with the coaching staff during the break in play. "For the first 15 minutes, Ballymena ran over the top of us. We didn't get into our groove and we were a bit panicky. It was a first final for a lot of boys in the final and he just told us to get back to our normal game. We weren't playing the way we normally play with free-flowing football.

"He just told us to settle down, be patient and that it would come. Thankfully it did."

The matches marks, eventually, the culmination of the 19/20 Irish League season after the four-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic came to an end with the Irish FA cup competition finals.

"For any player to go out there and play 240 minutes in four days is a credit to themselves," continued McDaid. "Fair play to Ballymena, they gave us a really good game and had us worried at times. Over the full game, I think we looked the fitter side and fair play to the lads, they have dug in, kept themselves fit over the time off and it's paid off."

The five year wait for the club's 23rd Irish Cup victory is over but it's now been 11 years since the Glens were crowned Irish League champions.

No prizes for guessing what's next on the agenda.

Belfast Telegraph