The former Derry City centre-back left his hometown club last summer and signed with the Glens as part of Mick McDermott’s bid to bring back the good times to east Belfast.
McClean will step out at Windsor Park aiming to secure a spot in the Friday final by beating Cliftonville in the second last-four clash on today’s double return to competitive Irish League football.
Hopes of sharing the final experience in front of a limited number of supporters will serve as extra motivation and McClean is quick to highlight his thanks for the backing enjoyed since joining the Glens and rediscovering a sense of joy following past frustrations.
“It’s a big incentive and a big occasion, especially after how the league season ended,” said McClean. “Personally, it would mean a lot to bring a trophy to supporters who have been so amazing with me from day one.
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“I was ready to throw in the towel before joining Glentoran, my head was no longer in the game - but have loved being at this club.
“It would be great to be able to give something back to the fanbase after joining Glentoran helped to bring my career back from such a serious low point.
“From day one the fans have been superb with me.
“To win the Irish Cup semi-final and then a trophy would be a great, great feeling, a career highlight for sure.
“With any previous success I maybe let it pass me by and took it for granted.
“But, thanks to this season, I appreciate the good moments much more and am relishing the chance to give back to the fans and everyone else around the club.
“I was involved in a cup semi-final with Sligo Rovers and at the club but not in the squad as a teenager at Derry City, so it’s going to be a big moment for me on a personal level as well.”
Following the ‘new normal’ of months under a football fixture freeze due to the coronavirus pandemic, then weeks of training in preparation for a competitive return, McClean expects old habits to kick in after kick-off at Windsor Park.
“I’m so excited to get back out on the pitch and think once the first whistle sounds then the unusual preparations will be in the past,” said McClean. “The players will fall back into the same old routine when competitiveness kicks in for everyone.
“The first 10 or 15 minutes tend to set the tone of any fixture and you will have two teams playing with real intensity.
“We are all itching to get back at it on Monday and there is a real never-say-die attitude within this Glentoran squad.
“You can look back on our fixtures this season and see how many goals have been scored after the hour mark in our games.
“It’s a big game against Cliftonville but a great game for everyone to jump back into the season.”
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