Tomorrow night we cross the Lagan to play Crusaders at Seaview in the opening round of the Toal’s County Antrim Shield.
Last time we played Crusaders in the Shield was 7 years ago when a Stevie Gordon goal didn’t stop Glentoran losing to what was effectively a Crusaders – Premiership Champions at the time – second string. Our meeting before that was in the semi final in October 2010 when goals from Daryl Fordyce and Matty Burrows saw us through to a final where we beat Linfield 3-1 at Windsor Park, the most recent of the 26 occasions we’ve won the trophy.
It's likely that the two sides that face each other tomorrow evening will show a few differences from last week’s 2-2 draw at the Bet McLean Oval.
Warren Feeney: “As supporters will know, managers quite often try to give younger players an opportunity in the Shield to help create a pathway for them into first team football. . Leon Boyd and Rhys Walsh are away in Italy with the Northern Ireland U19s but we still want to do that tomorrow night.
"Jonny Russell has had to be thrown in at the deep end this season as sub in four consecutive league games. Jonny doesn’t turn 19 for a couple of weeks but he’s acquitted himself very well against strong opposition in the Premiership when called on. Casey Smyth is another one doing very well for the Seconds. He scored a brilliant second half hat trick against Glenavon Reserves to win us a game we were losing, so he’ll not let us down if called on. Bailey Locke has also been playing well for the Seconds so he’ll be called up too, as will our young keeper Lorcan Donnelly who’s established himself well in the Seconds and been a regular for Northern Ireland at U17 level. Finally, my son George has played in the last couple of Seconds games and scored in both, including two against Crusaders last week. He also scored away to Manchester City for the Northern Ireland U16s last month so is in good form. I’m sure everyone will get behind whatever of these young lads get on the pitch tomorrow night.
"However this is a senior trophy and Glentoran haven’t won enough of those in recent years. Our goal is to win every trophy we enter. So the squad will be approaching this in a positive and confident manner.”