Declan Devine determined to give Glentoran's young stars a platform to perform in senior ranks

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Glentoran manager Declan Devine insists it’s crucial that the club’s young stars are given a platform to perform in the senior team and says he’s looking to the future with “positivity and optimism” after what he branded a “horrendous” season.

The Glens finished fifth in the Premiership last term and missed out on European football by losing 3-0 in their play-off semi-final against Coleraine, but have already started to implement wholesale changes in the playing group with 10 departing last week.

Devine handed opportunities to a number of youngsters in a 4-0 victory over Crusaders which rounded out their regular season with 17-year-old Callan Farley and 18-year-old James Douglas starting while James McClure (17), Tony McIlhone (19), Owen O’Neill (17) and Cal Weatherup (16) all came off the bench.

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Glentoran finished third in the U20 Premiership last season, winning nine of their final 10 matches, and also celebrated U16 Academy League title success, further showcasing the talent coming through at The Oval.

Glentoran manager Declan Devine. PIC: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press.Glentoran manager Declan Devine. PIC: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press.
Glentoran manager Declan Devine. PIC: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press.

Now appointed on a permanent basis, ex-Derry City chief Devine is determined to help bring the next generation through and wants to rebuild the connection between players and fans.

"I've played here, I'm a football man that has been involved in the game,” he told the club’s media channel. “This club is built on solid foundations and has great history, but we have to look forward and get supporters back in.

"We want people coming here for the next 100 years and want to build on that, but it's one step at a time. We need to make sure our players are back out working in the community, going to schools and not just being footballers on a Saturday that come in and out the gate...we're going to work hard every day.

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"There will be a lot of expectation for the players to commit to the professional set-up that we'll provide for them. There's a lot of talented young players and they're the future.

"There has to be a pathway for them, but you also have to make sure the experienced players that are here are ready to fight for everything the club stands for.

"It has been a horrendous season but we are where we are now and we have to make sure that doesn't happen again. We look forward with positivity and optimism."

On recruitment, Devine added: "Recruitment over the coming weeks is going to be key. There are 10 that have gone out and maybe another one or two, I don't know, but I don't envisage 10 or 12 players coming in.

"I want a tight squad and young players being given a platform to play. We do need to strengthen in certain areas and make sure we get that right."

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