Glentoran boss Mick McDermott admits his team will travel across town to Solitude on Saturday with no fears ahead of their Europa League play-off shoot-out with Cliftonville.
Against all the odds the East Belfast side – who could finish in only SEVENTH place in the Danske Bank Premiership table – are on the brink of pocketing a financial bonanza.
They produced an astonishing midweek performance in their semi-final showdown with Glenavon, roaring to a stunning 4-2 victory, courtesy of goals from Darren Murray, who bagged a glorious double, Curtis Allen and Robbie McDaid.
The irony was that Gary Hamilton’s side finished a staggering 21 points ahead of the Glens in the league table!
But with an estimated £200,000 up for grabs in this Europa League decider, it’s a chance for Glentoran to resurrect their season right on the final day!
Unbeaten in six games since McDermott was parachuted in to replace Gary Smyth, the Glens will now look to grab the coveted pot of gold, which most teams now crave.
“The play-offs keep the interest alive for teams like Glentoran towards the end of the season,” said McDermott. “I understand why some people don’t like the system, as was the case in midweek.
“But it’s not an easy process. The teams that get through from the play-offs certainly deserve it.
“We certainly had to work for our win at Glenavon. And, we’ll have to do the same against Cliftonville. The way we look at it, we don’t care who we play. We go out to perform the best we can for us – for no one else.”
There has been an astonishing transformation at Glentoran since McDermott and his assistant Paul Millar have arrived in East Belfast.
“It’s not me, the players take the credit – there is no secret,” he added. “We have organised them . . . we’ve trained them and given them a role and responsibility.
“The players know what they have to do when the step out on to the pitch. When they do that, that creates a belief.”
“We knew it was going to be a battle at Mourneview Park . . . but I’ve seen a new belief come into this team in recent weeks.”
McDermott also hailed the predatory instincts of striker Murray – his two goals were top drawer.
He added: “Darren showed great composure. He had to turn the defender for his second one, which was a real bit of creativity.
“He then had to run 40 yards . . . it’s a long way. But his finish was brilliant against what has been the best goalkeeper in the Irish League (Johnny Tuffey) for a number of years.
“We scored quickly both times Glenavon levelled and that was key to the game. Momentum in football shifts from minute to minute.
“Sometimes there are blocks in the games you are under pressure . . . sometimes there are blocks in the games your opponents are under pressure.
“When a team scores, they have the momentum. So, when it happened at Mourneview, it was great to have a quick reply. It knocked them back and helped increase our belief.
“But we must do it all again at Solitude. The midweek win counts for nothing if we don’t finish the job.”