Belfast Telegraph

Smyth is calling on his Glens stars to give him the perfect Oval homecoming

Home comforts: Gary Smyth will savour being boss at Oval
Home comforts: Gary Smyth will savour being boss at Oval

By Graham Luney

Gary Smyth is relishing the prospect of walking out for his first home game as Glentoran manager against Newry today.

Smyth's opening game in charge of the Glens, having taken over from Ronnie McFall earlier this month, was at Crusaders when his side lost 4-1 in an Irish Cup tie.

Then came a morale-boosting and much-needed 2-0 league victory away to Institute last weekend to move the east Belfast side to eighth in the table.

On the back of that first win for the club since October, crowd favourite Smyth is ready for his Oval bow as boss after three spells with his boyhood team as a player and his short time as assistant manager to McFall.

"I have had three spells at Glentoran as a player so I've had a couple of comebacks. I walked out at the start of the season as assistant manager and now I'll do it as manager and I'm really looking forward to it," said Smyth.

"It was a monkey off the back last week getting the win at Institute. Our record at The Oval in recent years hasn't been great, and Newry need to get wins as well, but we know exactly what we need to do.

"We will ask for the same effort and commitment as last week because it was fantastic and we have plenty of quality on the pitch. If we get all that I'd be disappointed if we didn't get a win."

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Smyth has revealed that coach Kieran Harding, renowned as McFall's long-time assistant, has decided to stay at The Oval following debate over his future.

"Kieran is staying, I'm delighted to say. The last week or so he has really enjoyed it. I'm not saying he didn't enjoy it under Ronnie. He was with Ronnie for 20-plus years and maybe this is something different for Kieran. He's going to be a big help to us because he's such a top coach," Smyth told Cool FM's Football Show.

Despite last week's victory, Smyth says that the Glens are still involved in a relegation battle but he didn't play it safe against Institute with new signing Darren Murray up front alongside Curtis Allen and Robbie McDaid given a roaming role.

Smyth said: "We have two out and out centre forwards in Curtis Allen and Darren Murray. Curtis has been playing up front a lot on his own and because we were doing a lot of defending and it took our wide men time to get up the pitch it would be three against one for Curtis.

"Probably the best form of defence is attack so we put two up front and gave Robbie McDaid a free role in behind them. He always works hard and gives you that something different and it worked well."

On Murray, who joined the Glens after leaving Portadown, Smyth said: "No matter where he has gone he has scored goals. He's been with us for a few weeks and he's been great.

"He's put the effort in every Tuesday and Thursday night. He's played the last two games and is probably a wee bit off fitness but when he gets up to full fitness he'll be a massive asset."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph