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Mick McDermott: I always knew Jay Donnelly would be a hit with Glentoran no matter what the fans said

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Goal trail: Jay Donnelly has been firing the way for Glentoran this season

Goal trail: Jay Donnelly has been firing the way for Glentoran this season

On a roll: Glentoran boss Mick McDermott wants to keep the momentum going. Credit: Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

On a roll: Glentoran boss Mick McDermott wants to keep the momentum going. Credit: Desmond Loughery/Pacemaker Press

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Goal trail: Jay Donnelly has been firing the way for Glentoran this season

Manager Mick McDermott believes Glentoran fans are now seeing the best of striker Jay Donnelly.

The former Cliftonville man has been in red-hot goalscoring form, having bagged an impressive 14 in his 18 appearances this season.

But it’s no surprise to McDermott, who says he “knew what he was getting” when Donnelly arrived at the east Belfast club in September 2020.

“People questioned us signing him, and they still do,” said McDermott.

“We knew what we were getting with Jay. We knew when we got Ruaidhri — his brother — we would eventually land Jay and he’s been super since he walked through the door.

“Probably on his day, he’s the best centre-forward in the league, there is no doubt about that. His record speaks for itself.

“He recently broke the 100-goal mark in Irish League football — he’s now on 101. In fact, he has scored 31 goals in 57 appearances for Glentoran, which is a phenomenal return.

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“Jay is only 26, his peak years are still ahead of him.”

Donnelly’s latest party piece came from the penalty spot against Dungannon Swifts at The Oval last week, helping the Glens to a 3-0 victory.

It set them up for what was billed as the game of the night on Tuesday against Coleraine at the Ballycastle Road Showgrounds, but the league showdown was called off in line with NIFL’s Covid-19 policy.

However, the Glens will be in action today when Matthew Tipton brings his youthful Portadown side to the BetMcLean Oval.

The Ports sit one off the bottom in the table having won only one of their 16 starts in the Danske Bank Premiership.

Although they have managed to grind out draws with Linfield, Larne and Glentoran, Tipton’s boys have reeled in merely eight points so far. Their latest agonising defeat came on Tuesday when they lost 2-0 to Crusaders.

“We know Portadown walked away from the BetMcLean Oval with a point six weeks ago, but we are in a different frame of mind this time,” added McDermott.

“We have lost only once in 11 games and have pocketed 16 points out of 18.

“Three clean sheets on the bounce have been a bonus, the boys wanted to get back to not conceding so many goals.

“We have played difficult sides such as Ballymena United and Crusaders, teams that like to rely a lot on set-pieces.

“I think Ballymena must be the biggest team in the league, they are difficult to play against. If you look at statistics in football, something like 30% of goals are scored from set-pieces.

“Defending well is simply not about having good defenders, it requires everyone on the pitch to show a strong will and desire not to concede — our recent performances have shown that.

“We all know if we don’t concede we put ourselves in the best position to win any game because of the boys we have up top, they’ll always score some goals.

“We had a rest in midweek after our game at Coleraine was called off, so we’ll be ready for Portadown. It’s important to keep the run going.”


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