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Gavin Peers: Irish Cup semi-final arrangements aren't ideal but we'll do all we can to win it for Glentoran



Glentoran defender Gavin Peers has made the switch to Warrenpoint

Glentoran defender Gavin Peers has made the switch to Warrenpoint


Glentoran defender Gavin Peers has made the switch to Warrenpoint

Rugged defender Gavin Peers knows a thing or two about winning trophies and he hopes to put that experience to good use later this month when Glentoran face Cliftonville in the Semi-Final of the Sadler's Peaky Blinder Irish Cup at Windsor Park.

Monday, July 27 is the date senior football will return to some sort of normality - albeit the Belfast showdown will be played behind closed doors as the threat of coronavirus still lingers.

Having been on the winning podium in a successful 12-year career with Sligo Rovers, St Patrick's Athletic and Derry City - following a year in England with Mansfield Town - 34-year-old Peers admits an Irish Cup win would be the perfect way to end what has been an enduring season, both on and off the pitch.

"As a player, you want to win as much as you can," he says.

"We have to look at it positively as we are only two games away from winning the Irish Cup.

"We have to make sure we are ready for it. We know there is a massive financial carrot for the club in terms of European football.

"I've won a few things in my time and it would be nice to keep adding to that - seven trophies in my time down south, including one League title, three FAI Cup successes, two League Cups and a Setanta Cup.

"I honestly thought we were in with a shout of the League title this season, but we fell away at the wrong time, just after Christmas."

Peers, a former Republic of Ireland Under-23 international, stresses it will be another testing 90 minutes against a Cliftonville side looking to end 41 years of Irish Cup hurt.

He adds: "It's always tough against them, games between the sides have been really close.

"They beat us in the Europa League Play-Off Final last season, so we maybe owe them one.

"It's a massive incentive to end the season on a high. It's the same for the other three teams. European football is the massive pot of gold at the end of it."

Peers, who joined Glentoran in January 2019, maintains that four weeks - from the date the NI Executive gave the thumbs up to return - is hardly ideal time for clubs to prepare for such a monumental fixture.

"It's been a long break since March," says Peers, whose wife gave birth to their third son, Baxter, just before the lockdown.

"I suppose these Cup Semi-Finals are a big ask for all four teams. We have all been training at home, but everyone knows that's not the same.

"We'll be back only a few weeks before we go straight into a Semi-Final. We would normally have six weeks of pre-season, which would include numerous friendly games.

"Although we will be building up our fitness leading up to the game, we'll be going in a bit raw.

"And, to be honest, I think it's still a bit risky with this pandemic still around. There are a lot of other issues involved, in terms of players coming out of contract.

"You never know what happens. There is always the risk of injury. Obviously, as a player, you go in to win, but I don't think that players' welfare has been thought through.

"The League campaign was brought to a halt, but I suppose the League authorities and the IFA were in a no-win situation over the way they handled things.

"If all protocols are in place by all clubs, that's all you can ask.

"At the end of the day, we are faced with an unprecedented situation, something that we have never come across before - and perhaps something we'll never face again."

Belfast Telegraph