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Robbie McDaid: I could move across the water but I want to stay and bring league title back to Glentoran

 

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Right at home: Robbie McDaid wants to win more silverware before thinking about leaving The Oval

Right at home: Robbie McDaid wants to win more silverware before thinking about leaving The Oval

�INPHO/Jonathan Porter

Right at home: Robbie McDaid wants to win more silverware before thinking about leaving The Oval

Irish Cup, tick. Danske Bank Premiership title, that's the next target.

Not even a global pandemic is going to slow down the Glentoran revolution under owner Ali Pour and boss Mick McDermott.

Riding the crest of a wave after their stunning Irish Cup success and return to the European stage, the east Belfast giants plan to remain in the fast lane.

It feels like the Glens have had as many arrivals as Heathrow Airport this year and that's strong evidence the Irish Cup win is only the beginning.

Bobby Burns has joined in a loan deal from Barrow FC, linking up with new arrivals Jay Donnelly, Dale Gorman, Dayle Coleing, Gael Bigirimana, Luke McCullough, Jamie McDonagh and Rory Brown.

No team has a divine right to win the league title and the Glens have been starved of championship success since 2009, but the signs are that they will be back in the conversation.

The goal was always to make the club competitive through a productive full-time environment, and the progress has been greater than imagined.

Robbie McDaid, one of the league's top finishers, has just signed a new contract, and that tells you he believes something special is happening at The Oval.

"I was aware of interest and there were a few calls," said the Omagh man, whose father John also played for the Glens.

"The possibility of going across the water is there but I feel Glentoran is the best place to further my career. I played in nearly every game last season, scored goals and I want to keep going.

"The Irish Cup was great for me and the fans. That taste of success leaves you wanting more, and it was a shame all the fans couldn't be there to see it.

"But I'd love to bring the title back to east Belfast, and if I achieved that then a move to a higher level may be enticing, but I'm happy and committed to doing my best for the club and helping them win more silverware.

"The Glens are synonymous with winning trophies and league titles and that's what we should be doing. We have given ourselves a great platform with the Irish Cup win, and the gaffer and Windy (Paul Millar) have recruited well over the summer.

"We have a squad of around 25 players who are all quality, and competition for places is very high. Over the season that could prove important as there will be injuries and suspensions, as well as games coming thick and fast.

"You can't ask players to play all the time. Everyone wants to win the league but we have no doubt it will be a very competitive league, and the top sides have massively strengthened.

"Even the bottom six sides are capable of beating the top six, so it's a tough league."

Linfield retained their title after 31 games last season but Coleraine were threatening to take it to the death.

There's little difference in the quality of the squads among the top six finishers last season and McDaid knows every side will be tested in a big way.

"There's never an easy game in our league," added McDaid, who scored the extra-time winner against Ballymena United in the Irish Cup decider.

"It will be very competitive. Linfield, as champions, have the target on their back and everyone is chasing them. Larne, Crusaders have strengthened and you just have to see how teams click and perform on game day.

"It's exciting, and we are all looking forward to getting back to some sort of normality."

Another Glentoran favourite who signed a new professional contract was Elliott Morris.

"There's a lot of optimism," he said. "This year was about becoming competitive. A new mindset and goal is required and the desire is always to challenge clubs like Linfield.

"We need to be closer coming to the split and hopefully the new arrivals can help us get closer to the Blues. I don't see why not.

"The Irish Cup run showed what we were capable of. We hadn't beaten Crusaders in a long time and there was pressure on us, at home. To win it was a phenomenal effort by everyone.

"It shows how far Mick and Windy have brought the team along in a short period of time. We want to keep progressing so that we are involved in big games and challenging for trophies. It's only going to get better."

GLENTORAN

Manager: Mick McDermott

Captain: Marcus Kane

Last season's finish: Fifth

Targets: All trophies, including league title and European qualification

Player to watch: Gael Bigirimana

Belfast Telegraph