Patrick McClean feels Glentoran's Irish Cup glory can be springboard

Glentoran’s Patrick McClean celebrates a 3-0 victory against Linfield last season. Picture by Brian Little/INPHOGlentoran’s Patrick McClean celebrates a 3-0 victory against Linfield last season. Picture by Brian Little/INPHO
Glentoran’s Patrick McClean celebrates a 3-0 victory against Linfield last season. Picture by Brian Little/INPHO
Centre-back Patrick McClean believes last season’s Irish Cup glory can give Glentoran the perfect platform to challenge for the 2021 Dankse Bank Premiership title.

McClean believes the Oval men can emulate Shamrock Rovers, who defeated Dundalk to win the FAI Cup in 2019 and are now just five points away from clinching this season’s SSE Airtricity League Premier Division title.

The Creggan man says last season’s success has benefitted the whole squad.

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“Last year there were a lot of young lads who hadn’t really won a trophy or had that experience, so it was good for them and can be massive coming into this season,” he stated.

“Even lads who have been at Glentoran for a long time, lads that have won trophies but then gone through the bad patch, after having a successful season last year we want to do even better this year and challenge again.

“All the boys have got their heads down and are all looking forward to the season starting.

“We are all looking forward to the season getting underway, especially as we didn’t get that much of a break.

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“We were obviously off with the COVID-19 situation but since we came back last season for the Irish Cup, we have pretty much been back training and playing since then. We are going into the season very fit, very confident and full of hopes.”

During the off season Mick McDermott has strengthened his squad with eight new players - former Derry City winger Jamie McDonagh and ex-Institute goalkeeper Rory Brown, former Northern Ireland international Luke McCullough, ex-Cliftonville frontman Jay Donnelly, midfielders Bobby Burns, Dale Gorman, Gael Bigirimana and goalkeeper Dayle Coleing have all joined. The spending spree has marked the Glens out as the team others will raise their game for.

“That was always the case because Glentoran have always been that club in the Irish League that everybody wants to beat,” he added.

“It’s that old saying, ‘no one likes us and we don’t care’ so we are going into the season no different to any other because there’s always pressure on Glentoran, it’s just another day at the office.”

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The 23-year-old, who only recently signed a new three year contract, says that football all over the world is missing supporters and he’s hoping the Glentoran fans will be allowed into games when the season gets underway this weekend against Cliftonville.

“I know Glentoran fans are itching to get back into the Oval and we can’t wait to get them back because they helped us get through some big games last season,” he explained.

“It’s good to see some fans are getting back into grounds and creating an atmosphere at games.

“Having has a big effect on clubs. Even when you are watching the Premier League a few weeks ago, (Man) United versus Spurs and then (Aston) Villa versus Liverpool, those two games were crazy. In fact when have you ever seen the likes of that happening before.

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“If Man United and Liverpool had fans in for both those games then those score lines don’t happen.

“It’s starting to take its toll on clubs. The lack of atmosphere is disappointing and you’re sort of trying to lift yourself for games. It’s like pre-season games all the time.”

Indeed there is one special fan McClean cannot wait to take to the Oval. The defender became a father for the first time last February and says he is already looking forward to taking his baby son, Connolly James, to The Oval.

“Connolly being born just topped everything off last year and I’m looking forward to hopefully getting him into the Oval and watching games this season. His arrival has certainly made me grow up a bit more,” he joked.

“Having a small amount of fans in is the same for every club. Everyone has been taking precautions and following guidelines but as I said, it’s the same for every club.”