Belfast Telegraph

Why protecting the Oval pitch has gone down in Glentoran boss McDermott's priorities

Cliftonville 0 Glentoran 2

Mick McDermott
Mick McDermott

By Conor McLaughlin

Mick McDermott joked that protecting The Oval pitch has slipped down his list of priorities after losing defender Patrick McClean to a training ground injury.

The former Derry City centre-half was forced to sit out the weekend's 2-0 victory over Cliftonville after twisting his ankle while warming up for last Thursday's preparatory session.

His absence forced McDermott into a couple of defensive tweaks, with Willie Garrett - who had been in line for a full-back role -slotting in alongside Gavin Peers in the middle, allowing Conor Pepper to retain his position on the right of the back four.

Despite their unfamiliarity, McDermott's rejigged defence produced a solid display to keep Cliftonville at bay as the Glens recorded their first win over the north Belfast side in eight attempts - and first victory at Solitude since April 2016.

Pleased as he was to pick up the points that further fuel his team's recent momentum, McDermott admitted the cut and thrust of the Danske Bank Premiership could be difficult to bear at times.

"We're only 17 games in but it feels like we've been going forever," he sighed with a comical puff of the cheeks.

"I don't know how people like David Jeffrey and all these managers who've been in the game for years and years keep going while holding down a day job at the same time. They've certainly got my admiration because it's tough going."

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Adding to his concerns was the injury McClean picked up 48 hours before Saturday's game, which was settled by goals at the start of each half by Cameron Stewart and Chris Gallagher.

"We try to protect the pitch at The Oval," he explained.

"We train on a little strip down the side but, when it gets wet, it can get mushy and hard to stand on and, while the players were doing their warm-up for training, Patrick's stepped on a soft bit and his ankle's gone right over.

"You try to protect the pitch and end up losing a player!"

Saturday's win, which was achieved despite the dismissal of midfielder Hrvoje Plum for a second bookable offence 10 minutes from time, lifted the east Belfast side to within five points of the Danske Bank Premiership's summit but, despite holding a game in hand over three of the teams above them, McDermott was quick to shoot down talk of a Gibson Cup challenge.

"Not at all," he scoffed.

"We haven't set any targets or any goals. It's just one game to the next, prepare well, try to win, move on, next game, prepare well, try to win. We prepare the same way for every match and treat every opponent the same.

"If I approach a certain game differently to others, players can sense that and I don't think it does them any good at all."

CLIFTONVILLE: Brush, McDermott, Breen, C Curran, R Curran, R Donnelly, Bagnall (McMenamin, 52 mins), Doherty, Gormley, A Donnelly, Gorman (Maguire, 71 mins). Unused subs: Dunne, Foster, Wilson, Rocks, McCurry.

GLENTORAN: Antolovic, Garrett, Kane, Peers, Gallagher, McDaid (Murray, 90 mins), Stewart (Herron, 85 mins), Pepper, Crowe, O'Neill (Van Overbeek, 69 mins), Plum.

Unused subs: Morris, Birney, Nasseri, Duric.

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)

Man of the match: Chris Gallagher

Match rating: 7/10

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