Sean Connor: Glentoran should block out the outside noise and keep moving

Former Glentoran manager Mick McDermott who has moved upstairs to the Oval offices.

Pic Colm Lenaghan/ PacemakerFormer Glentoran manager Mick McDermott who has moved upstairs to the Oval offices.

Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
Former Glentoran manager Mick McDermott who has moved upstairs to the Oval offices. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker
​Noise; a sound or sounds, especially when it is unwanted, unpleasant or loud.

​This the meaning of the noun ‘noise,’ in the Cambridge addition of the English Dictionary.

I was at the Glentoran game against Larne, when the Glens lost 1-0. As the game neared its finale, the noise in the stand from a small number of individuals was growing, and you could sense the atmosphere and frustrations of a minority of the crowd begin to change at the Oval on a cold, windy and damp January Saturday afternoon.

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As daylight, or what had passed for it that afternoon, began to fade and I exited the ground a small but vocal group had gathered outside the players entrance at the Oval. They were voicing their disapproval to Mick McDermott, in a noisy and vicious manner.

It was not a nice atmosphere as I walked quickly towards Connswater shopping centre to catch the Glider, back over to my family home in West Belfast.

Early the following week it was confirmed that Mick McDermott was stepping away from his duties, his role as Head Coach. He will now focus on the management and development of the bigger project that both Ali Pour and Mick have for the club.

This project includes the re-development or expansion of the ‘Oval’, a historic stadium carved in the annals of Irish League football. The ground,

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just like the club and team, were on the brink and floundering until the arrival of Ali and his investment and grand designs. Mick was the face of this ambitious and visionary plan, to both re-shape the club and its stadium. They introduced a new professional era, a new ambition and quality players all helped elevate the desire within the supporters in East Belfast.

It was ironic that they were playing Larne, on the day the small contingent of Glentoran fans spewed their venom towards Mick. I have written in the past about the Harmony and Unity of Purpose I have witnessed up the coast. Kenny Bruce and Tiernan Lynch, are attempting the very same seismic change in their football club and more importantly in the community around it. In fact in terms of the project, they are ahead of Glentoran, (three years ahead), Inver Park is


They have a fully functional academy with an educational programme attached. On the pitch, however, they have not quite broken into the top tier just yet. A triple of County Antrim Shields and an Irish Cup final appearance, are in my view a lot less than the investment in the team deserves.

Kenny and Tiernan have not had to deal with the noise, or speculation, from their supporters or media, that Ali Pour and Mick have had to deal with. Even if they had I believe that the harmony within the whole club in Larne would have simply blocked out the noise.

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Everyone at the club would have simply put their backs to the wheel and kept moving forward. I have watched the club grow and develop both on and off the field from afar, my respect for both men has grown, I love the courage they have shown.

I can see they have a vision, a process and it’s this that concerns them, nothing outside of this matters.

The history of both clubs and the supporters’ and football journalists’ understanding of this has coloured both the criticism and noise around both clubs. The expectations at Glentoran, are immense, they have Linfield breathing down their necks. It is almost as if Larne are the new kids on the block, excuses and time for improvement are in abundance for Kenny and Tiernan. All they are doing, and it’s immense, is viewed in awe. Mick McDermott, certainly has not had this luxury. He is scrutinised in all his actions and words. By moving upstairs, or whatever the media want to spin this, his decision was brave. I have made it known in the past here in this column, I have gotten to know Mick reasonably well and I like him.

I believe his decision was that of a true leader. He wanted to take all the pressure off his players and coaching staff, allowing the team to focus on performing and getting the results their obvious talent demands. The last two performances have shown a team that is playing with a freedom and a lack of angst.

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The demands of the group of supporters who want Mick out of the Oval, shows a lack of class and reality. They should be careful what they wish for. The club was in dire financial straits, prior to the investment from the new group. They were languishing and as far away from the Gibson Cup as you can be. Despite this recent run of poor form and malcontent within certain quarters in the club, encouraged by the media, Glentoran have a vibrant and talented squad. They are very capable of putting a run of wins together to get themselves back in the title race.

In recent weeks all the top challengers, Cliftonville, Larne, Linfield and maybe even Crusaders, have shown glimpses of title winning form. Likewise, all of them have shown the ability to slip up. Four points are separating Cliftonville from Crusaders, with the other two sandwiched between. Glentoran have three games in hand, win all three and they will be only four points off the Reds at the top of the table.

Maybe in the cold light of day, and away from all the emotion, Glentoran supporters can focus on the team. By getting behind them and showing a unity between the club and supporters, just like Larne, they might just see their team put a run together towards fulfilling their yearning for the

league title.

Maybe in May the whole club will be united in thanking Mick and Ali Pour for their ability to adapt and change the environment within the club,

to allow the players and coaching staff to focus simply on winning football games.

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