Paul Millar wants players to follow his path to Irish Cup glory

Glentoran assistant manager Paul Millar is calling on the current squad to follow in his footsteps and secure a spot within the club’s rich Irish Cup history.

By Patrick Van Dort
Monday, 27th July 2020, 6:00 am
Glentoran assistant manager Paul Millar. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Glentoran assistant manager Paul Millar. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Millar returned to the Oval club last year to help with the Glens’ rejuvenation sparked by significant financial investment.

His place as a fans’ favourite, however, has been long-since established thanks to exploits as a player that included grabbing the winning goal for Glentoran against Coleraine in the 1986 Irish Cup final.

Now Millar and the Glens tackle Cliftonville at Windsor Park in the second semi-final of today’s behind-closed-doors Irish Cup showpiece double-header for a place in the main event on Friday.

Millar is keen to see the 2020 squad gain the same boost he enjoyed by grabbing the glory.

“It’s such a big occasion with the prospect of a trophy and European football as the rewards,” said Millar, who found the net in every round of the Glens’ march to silverware success in 1986. “We cannot wait and to win that trophy would be unbelievable for the club as part of our journey.

“It’s such a great bunch of players and people connected to the club.

“It’s not been so long since those difficult times for everyone around Glentoran but the fans have stood by us and turned out in such numbers.

“It’s crazy to think back to that Irish Cup run in 1986 and people still come up to talk to me about it.

“It was such a big moment personally and it would be great for our players in this squad to have that same experience.

“We have long-term goals for what is a young squad overall, with lots of legs and life.

“It’s an Irish Cup semi-final so a major fixture but the first competitive game back after lockdown between two teams with similar high-energy, attacking playing styles.”

Millar is full of praise for his players’ ability to adapt and adjust leading up to the semi-final but accepts an air of uncertainty over how individuals may react to a return under such high stakes.

“It has been strange of course and for so long no-one really knew what was happening,” said Millar. “The players have been off for the longest period ever and obviously we go into Monday in a different way than with a normal pre-season and string of friendlies on top of training.

“But the boys have adjusted well and come back with fitness levels up.

“We’ve had more time coming into the Glentoran game than usual for a single match but I don’t see the point in over-complicating anything with extra analysis.

“In the Irish League we know each other all so well, so shouldn’t face any major surprises beyond the expected strengths and weaknesses.

“Plus, it’s going to be the same for everyone on the day and we’ve had the same period of time off and same timeframe back on.

“One thing we cannot predict before the actual game is how each individual will cope with the situation.

“We have a squad of players who will deal with the match in different ways - some will be relaxed, others nervous.

“In the same way, it’s hard to know how the actual game will play out too.

“We’ve two teams that like to play on the frontfoot and produced some smashing games this season but it could be tense and tight because of the return or the high stakes.

“We will only know on the day so the plan has been to prepare as normal and just relish the opportunity to return to playing.”

Millar left Glenavon in 2019 for a third spell at Glentoran - having started his playing career on the Oval stage plus previously served as manager.

His perspective from life on and off the field in Glens colours across five decades offers a special insight into this week’s opportunity to increase the Oval outfit roll of honour with a 23rd Irish Cup prize.

“The club is now debt-free and we’ve gone from something like five players registered when I arrived to 14 or so full-time,” said Millar. “The supporters have been unbelievable and regularly pulling in crowds of 2,500-3,000 shows what this club means to the fans and area.

“There is such a buzz now around the club and in the region off such wonderful backing from the supporters and sponsors.

“I remember walking out last April with Mick McDermott for my first game back and we must have had over a 1,000 fans at Dungannon.

“I said to Mick how I’d almost forgotten just how big a club Glentoran is and it’s been a great journey to build over the past year or so.”


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