Ward warns consistency will be key for Glentoran
Glentoran defender Sean Ward has thrown down the gauntlet to rivals Linfield ahead of the new Danske Bank Premiership season.
The Glens have looked on with envious eyes as Linfield have celebrated six doubles in seven seasons but that success at Windsor has only served to deepen the sense of frustration in east Belfast.
And with that frustration comes a burning desire to turn the tide.
Last season's lowly sixth place finish and embarrassing Irish Cup exit to Newington YC is still difficult to comprehend for a club with such a long, successful and proud history. Now Ward is anxious to draw a line under the misery and see the Glens come out fighting.
“We've prepared as well as we can and we're confident,” he said.
“We're a very young team. Of course we have to be realistic but that doesn't mean we don't set targets. We want to win trophies.”
Despite finishing an eye-watering 28 points adrift of the league champions last season, Glentoran's vice-captain is at least hoping for a return of the kind of season that saw them stretch the old enemy, even if the Blues still managed to come out on top.
Despite failing to challenge for last season's title, the Glens managed four victories over their bitter rivals without conceding a goal, and Ward, 28, issued a rallying cry to rectify a “lack of consistency” against the lesser sides.
“As a player you would expect yourself and your team mates to be up for every single game,” he added.
“It's never going to be the odd Saturday or Tuesday night when you're going to perform.
“Linfield are consistent year in year out.
“They are league champions, deservedly so, regardless of how well benefacted they are.
“They have the hunger, drive and determination.
“It's very difficult to retain the league championship because they are the team to be beaten.
“As a Glentoran player, all we can do is look after ourselves. We're all in it together, and we will give it the best we can.”
The club has fought back from the brink of financial oblivion in the last two years, and Ward recognises that a return success cannot be taken for granted.
“We have to be patient. We are rebuilding. The fact that Glentoran have been through problems is not hidden,” he added.
The rebuilding process is under way when the Glens host Donegal Celtic tomorrow.
Glens fans don’t quite know what to expect this season but they won’t anticipate an overnight cure to their ills.