Glentoran may be going in the right direction after years of struggle but manager Mick McDermott has insisted ahead of tonight’s Irish Cup final with Ballymena United that they have done nothing yet.
McDermott also dismisses the claim of opposite number David Jeffrey that the Glens are huge favourites to lift the trophy they last clinched in 2015.
Jeffrey has been king of the mind games in the Irish League for two decades but McDermott is determined not to lose the psychological battle before kick-off.
He may have taken over as boss in controversial circumstances at the end of March last year — replacing Oval legend Gary Smyth — but, since then, with the takeover of the club completed by businessman Ali Pour, some big results including a comprehensive Boxing Day victory over champions Linfield and hard hitting comments that appealed to the club’s supporters, McDermott has won the fans over.
Now he wants to win a trophy and ease the pain that Glentoran followers have felt for too long.
“Nobody will remember in 10 years’ time that we were in the final in 2020 if we don’t win it,” said McDermott.
“For me, we are moving in the right direction and if we win, it is likely to put us on a different trajectory but I don’t buy Ballymena being clear underdogs. You don’t become the favourite for performing well for a bit. We have accomplished nothing.
“My players will not be preparing like we are clear favourites. When I look into my players’ eyes, I see boys hungry to win this and we won’t take our foot off the pedal. Be under no illusions, Ballymena have a good squad. It’s a team who won a game in Europe last year and finished second in the league against a side who haven’t won a trophy since 2015.
“Our club was struggling financially and it was ever decreasing circles, if you want to put it that way, it was a downward spiral.
“The people who were running it were doing their best but to get to a final in year one was not one of our goals. To end up where we are is a bonus and to pick up the trophy would be a massive achievement, just to show the fans we are moving in the right direction and the rewards that go with it in terms of European football would be brilliant.”
McDermott revealed that Pour, who has invested heavily in Glentoran, will travel from England to attend the final.
“Ali Pour will be at the game. He’s a sports fan and he wants to be here,” said the manager.
“He follows the games with live feeds and he was telling me he was at a dinner party during the semi-final and said he probably came across extremely rude because he kept checking his phone!
“He’s no different to us. He’s competitive, he likes success and he gets anxious if we’re losing. He’ll be here to support the team and hopefully enjoy the day.”
During the controversy of deciding how to end the Premiership season, it was Glentoran who suggested clubs should share European money. One win away from a potential £220,000 and Europa League qualification, what does McDermott say now?
“It hasn’t come up in any discussions within our own board or even other clubs,” he stated.
“The tell-tale thing on that would be what the other two clubs (Linfield and Coleraine) do. I don’t know the answer and I haven’t thought about it until now but it’s an interesting question.
“Would we? What if the other clubs were to do that same? The argument would be, and I’m being devil’s advocate here, that Ballymena or Glentoran would have completed a tournament and we’ll have a rightful winner, whereas the other two were sort of awarded it because of the circumstances.
“That would be the argument for some people but the board will have to make the decision and as we always said, it would have to be approved by Uefa.
“Would Uefa approve it if one club wanted to do it, I don’t know. Would they approve if all three because it would be unanimous, that’s more likely.”
Glentoran vs Ballymena Utd
Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup Final:
Windsor Park, Tonight, 8.00pm
Back in January when the top flight teams entered the Irish Cup, I tipped Glentoran to win the thing. It is wise never to write off any team managed by David Jeffrey but my opinion hasn’t changed.
While Ballymena United survived an almighty scare in their semi-final success over Coleraine, Glentoran’s journey to the final has been even more dramatic, saving themselves time and time again when all seemed lost. United have quality in their line-up and in Adam Lecky, Cathair Friel and Aaron Burns, they have big time goalscorers in their squad but Glentoran stars Robbie McDaid and Navid Nasseri look like matchwinners to me and with a defence containing warriors like Marcus Kane and Patrick McClean, the east Belfast outfit should be too strong. Given what happened in the semi-finals, penalties can’t be discounted but I fancy the Glens will get the job done before then and give Mick McDermott his first trophy as boss.