Mick McDermott says politicians need to take note

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Mick McDermott is not only eyeing three points from tonight’s ‘Big Two’ clash, but he is also hoping the eagerly-anticipated meeting between Glentoran and Linfield can jolt local government into action with regards to the long-awaited sub-regional stadia funding.

A sell-out crowd will be packed into The BetMcLean Oval as the top two in the Danske Bank Premiership face off.

The East Belfast stadium is one of the venues in line to be redeveloped as part of the £36.2m package with an investment of £10m earmarked from Stormont.

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But the funding programme, which was allocated to the game here back in 2015, is facing further delays following the resignation of the DUP’s First Minister Paul Givan last week.

Glentoran boss Mick McDermottGlentoran boss Mick McDermott
Glentoran boss Mick McDermott

Reports suggest the NI Football League are not confident that Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey will release the funding before this year’s scheduled elections leaving the local game in limbo yet again.

McDermott is hoping the scale of tonight’s clash will ram home the need for investment in the Irish League.

“This feels like a real ‘Big Two’ match,” he said.

“Boxing Day has always had a special atmosphere, but a sold out Oval tomorrow night will feel like a real derby game again.

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“It’s brilliant for both clubs, brilliant for the league and brilliant for NIFL.

“It’s also brilliant for what we’re trying to do in terms of getting the Executive to release funds to upgrade our stadiums.

“It shows the power of NIFL and the communities that we’re in, and it shows how those communities are suffering because we don’t have the facilities to accommodate them.

“If NIFL clubs had more access to better facilities this would open up football to more people in the community.

“I think they need to look long and hard at that.

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“It should be a great spectacle tomorrow night. I know we will have some prominent people here like Ian Baraclough, who will be commentating for the game on BBC.

“So hopefully that will give it a nudge forward to get our politicians to make some decisions.”