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Robbie McDaid's treble for Glentoran a timely reminder for incoming strikers

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Sharp shooter: Robbie McDaid celebrates the second of his three goals at The Dub

Sharp shooter: Robbie McDaid celebrates the second of his three goals at The Dub

PMAKER

Sharp shooter: Robbie McDaid celebrates the second of his three goals at The Dub

Glentoran boss Mick McDermott may have strengthened his striking options in the January transfer window, but Robbie McDaid's tasty treble against gutsy Queen's University on Saturday suggested he is still the master goal predator!

The 24-year-old, who was making his 100th appearance for the club, helped bail McDermott's team out of a tricky situation at The Dub - the scene of one of the biggest shocks in the history of the Sadler's Peak Blinder Irish Cup when the Students dumped mighty Linfield out of the tournament last month.

Again, Peter Thompson's side turned in a performance full of enthusiasm and passion, which was complimented by two excellent goals from Jonah Mitchell and Matthew Hughes.

But just when the home team, backed splendidly by 250 of the 350 fans shoehorned into the tight little ground dared to dream, McDaid struck with deadly consequences.

His third goal of the day not only finally floored Thompson's battlers, but earned the Glens a home quarter-final showdown with Crusaders later this month.

With new strikers Ruaidhri Donnelly - signed on transfer deadline day from Cliftonville - and Andrew Mitchell raring to go in the famous red, green and black shirt, they'll now know McDaid will take some shifting, having scored 44 goals in his century of games.

"We made heavy weather of the win," said the former Leeds United man. "It was a poor performance.

"The pitch was tough to play on and, to be fair to Queen's, they got the ball down and knocked it about well.

"It was a strange game. We conceded sloppy goals just after taking the lead on two occasions and that's just not like us.

"After what they did in the last round (against Linfield), it was always going to be a big ask for them to repeat a performance like that, but they gave it a decent shot.

"I don't think panic set in at any time. Even though they were competing, we remained calm and we kept doing our jobs.

"We knew we could create another good chance, so it was up to me to make sure I stuck it in the back of the net when it came along. In games like that, it's just important to be in the next round."

On his personal milestone, McDaid added: "It was a nice way to mark my 100th appearance. I set a marker of 20 goals at the start of the season, so I'm closing in on that now. I'm now on 18.

"It's been good for me so far, but we haven't won anything yet, there is still a long way to go.

"We have scored lot of important goals in the last 10 or 15 minutes and we managed to do it again.

"It's all down to the belief we have, the camaraderie in the group and our fitness levels.

"A few new strikers have arrived at the club last month and the boss is still looking to strengthen. I just have to keep my head down and keep hitting the net."

Queen's boss Thompson and his team were applauded off the pitch by their fans at the finish - and how they deserved the ovation.

"It was a fantastic display," beamed Thompson.

"Obviously, Robbie will hog all the headlines with his hat-trick, and rightly so. But to me, he was the difference between the two teams.

"In most other positions all over the pitch, I thought we were similar to Glentoran, if not better.

"I asked the boys to produce the same level of performance that beat Linfield in the last round - and they didn't disappoint me. I'm immensely proud of them.

"We played really well and it certainly didn't look like we were a level below Glentoran. I don't mean to be disrespectful but, for long periods of the game, I thought we out-fought them."

QUEEN'S: Brown, Corry, Calvert (Middleton, 76 mins), McMannus, Robinson, Bonnes (McIlroy, 90 mins), Hughes, Traynor, (Glackin, 65 mins), Mitchell, Young. Unused subs: Gawne, O'Hare, Magee, Drylie.

GLENTORAN: Antolovic, Garrett, Kane, Frazer (Van Overbeek, 46 mins), McDaid, McClean, Pepper, Nasseri, Crowe, O'Neill (Gallagher, 46 mins), O'Connor. Unused subs: Morris, Peers, Smith, Gordon, Cowan.

Referee: Ian McNabb (Newtownabbey)

Man of the match: Robbie McDaid

Match rating: 6/10

Man of the match: Robbie McDaid.

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