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Robbie McDaid hails 'super' strike partner Jay Donnelly as Glentoran forced into rare forward shuffle for trip to Larne



Robbie McDaid and Jay Donnelly have formed a fruitful partnership for the Glens.

Robbie McDaid and Jay Donnelly have formed a fruitful partnership for the Glens.

Robbie McDaid and Jay Donnelly have formed a fruitful partnership for the Glens.

Glentoran goal hero Robbie McDaid has heaped praise on his strike partner Jay Donnelly, who will be missing from the line-up in tonight's trip to Larne.

The pair have been partnered together in all of the Glens' last nine Premiership games and have repaid manager Mick McDermott's faith with six goals each during that run.

It's little wonder, then, that McDaid is enjoying life alongside 25-year-old Donnelly in the Glens' attack.

“Jay’s been super for us," he said.

"He scored a goal against Carrick, it was a really instinctive effort. He holds the ball up well, has a good first touch and he can see things happening. I really enjoy playing with him."

Donnelly will sit out tonight's game, as well as the fast-upcoming trip to Crusaders on Tuesday and subsequent home game against Cliftonville, following a red card picked up for a challenge on Mark Surgenor during the midweek win over Carrick.

“I think it could have been an orange card — it could have gone either way," said McDaid. "The referee deemed it red. It’s a shame because we’ll now lose him for three games. But there are plenty of boys sitting on the bench just itching to play. They are all more than capable of coming in and making an impact.

“As disappointing as it is to lose Jay, I know someone will step in to take the opportunity.”

The Glens have an embarrassment of riches in terms of their squad's attacking options, with Jay's brother Ruairi, Paul O'Neill and Andrew Mitchell all available to step into the gap.

Whoever does so, McDaid reckons they'll have a tough night taking on a Larne side that has lost its last two home games.

In fact, Larne have picked up merely one point from their last possible nine — that was in a hard-fought encounter with Crusaders at Seaview.

But even though they have experienced a so-called slump in form, the Invermen can still climb to within one point of table-topping Linfield should they triumph tonight.

“It’s uncharacteristic of Larne to lose two at home,” said McDaid. “It would be unfair to say we are getting them at a good time because they have too many good players.

“They will be determined to right their wrongs, especially after losing to Coleraine. We are under no illusions, it will be a seriously difficult game.

“Larne made Inver Park a bit of a fortress, not having lost up there for close on a year until the Ballymena result. They are at the top end of the table for a reason, so we know what to expect. It’s a game we are all looking forward to.

“Bring it on because we are all sick and tired of sitting about and having to train. I know there is a quick turnaround between fixtures now, but as players that’s what we want.”

With uncertainty still hovering over the league campaign in terms of the Covid-19 threat, McDaid admits his team look no further than the game up ahead.

“It’s a boring cliché, but it’s a matter of taking one game at a time,” he added. “No one knows when this league is going to end, or how far it will run.

“We just worry about the next game. We must do everything on our part and try to get as many points on the board as possible.

“You just don’t know when games are going to be pulled, or how many will be completed. We will take it one step at a time.”

McDaid was on the scoresheet in midweek and he hopes there are more goals to come.

“That was my ninth of the season,” he added. “I was trying to get into double figures before Christmas but, because of the Covid situation, it hasn’t worked out. Hopefully the 10th is not too far away — possibly at Inver Park.

“Although we picked up three points against Carrick, we were not entirely happy with the performance. They had a spell for around 10 minutes when they put us under pressure, when Jay was sent off. They pinned us in, but we weathered it well.

“When I stuck in the second one, it was only a matter of managing the game and seeing it out.

“Carrick’s performance didn’t reflect on their league position. They certainly didn’t look like a side sitting at the bottom of the table.

“There is no doubt Carrick will go on a run and they’ll give some team a hiding one of these days. There are very fine margins in this league.”

Belfast Telegraph

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