Belfast Telegraph

Play-offs add £200k spice to end of season: Robbie McDaid

 

Roaring success: Robbie McDaid celebrates his goal against Glenavon
Roaring success: Robbie McDaid celebrates his goal against Glenavon

By Graham Luney

Glentoran striker Robbie McDaid has voiced his support for the end-of-season play-off battles to secure a Europa League place and he's confident his side can hit the financial jackpot tonight.

If the Glens can conquer Cliftonville at Solitude in tonight's final (5.30pm) they will return to the European stage and pocket at least £200,000.

For a club that has been battling historic debts and sliding down the Danske Bank Premiership table to seventh place, that would represent a sweet finish to another frustrating campaign.

Any Irish League side would warmly welcome such a significant cash boost but there is the added feeling that a club the size of Glentoran belong on the European stage.

Like any reward in the game, it has to be earned, and Mick McDermott's side will need to produce one more special performance in north Belfast tonight.

Glentoran stunned third-placed Glenavon 4-2 at Mourneview Park on Tuesday night, while Cliftonville sealed a 5-3 extra-time success at home to Coleraine.

Goals from Darren Murray, who bagged a delicious double, Curtis Allen and McDaid made it a night to remember for McDermott and his troops.

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And McDaid is confident his side have the firepower and hunger to deliver one more knockout blow.

"The play-off format suits us, we have that Cup mentality and you often find that the team which has momentum going into big games often delivers," said the Omagh man.

"You saw Carrick do well in their play-off against Ards, and we are undefeated in six games and in good form since the split.

"That form has carried over and thankfully we have progressed to the final.

"We are three very attack-minded players and we have chipped in with goals.

"Between the three of us we have got close to 50 goals, and although myself and Curtis have taken on more of a wider role, it has suited the team well. We can score goals against anyone."

The final, which will be broadcast live on BBC Two Northern Ireland, is a repeat of last year's decider which Cliftonville won 3-2.

A third-placed finish wasn't enough for Glenavon to book a Europa League spot but McDaid has embraced the drama of the play-offs.

"I can understand if you're a Glenavon fan you are frustrated after finishing with your highest ever points tally in your history and then losing out to a team in the lower half of the table," added the 22-year-old.

"But, realistically, should there be a prize for third place? I'd say no. The play-offs are a great idea the league has introduced and it makes for competitive, entertaining games in May.

"It's always nice to have something to fight for, instead of everything being decided by mid-February or March.

"I'm in favour of the play-offs, I think they are brilliant."

Whether the Glens hit the cash jackpot tonight or not, a significant investment in the near future appears likely.

An EGM on May 16 has been called to give shareholders the chance to have their say on an offer from entrepreneur Ali Shams Mohammad Pour to buy the club.

"It's been a difficult few years for the club and, as players, we have to hold our hands up and say we haven't been anywhere near the level we should be," added McDaid, who moved from Glenavon to Leeds earlier in his career. "We have underachieved again but we still have a shout in the final game of the season to get into Europe.

"The Europa League prize is a lucrative one.

"The last few times we have played Cliftonville they have scored late and just pipped us. Hopefully the shoe is on the other foot and we can get the result.

"On our day we can match anyone and this format suits us.

"We have ran the Reds close and, in theory, we should be a bit fresher as they played extra-time against Coleraine."

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