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Irish Cup: Glentoran caretaker boss Declan Devine thinking of Linfield semi-final, not future

Glentoran caretaker boss Declan Devine is focused on Friday night's Irish Cup semi-final with Linfield, not whether he has a long-term future at the club.

Devine took temporary charge at the Oval this month just days after leaving Bohemians, replacing Warren Feeney.

Glentoran have won both games since the managerial change but Devine knows that Linfield will be a huge step up.

"It's onto the next and they don't come any bigger than Linfield coming for a semi-final," he said.

"I'm really looking forward to it because it's the next game, it wouldn't matter who we were playing."

There will be a pitch inspection at the Oval ahead of the game with heavy rain forecast on Friday, but Devine says his team will be ready for a difficult battle if it gets the all clear.

"Obviously it comes with the extra baggage when it's your biggest rivals coming into your own backyard.

"We're under no illusions that it's going to be an extremely difficult game, but we're ready for that.

"We're not afraid of difficulty. Linfield are so many points ahead of us in the league for a reason this year, but it's a one-off game, it's played to a finish, and the boys have prepared well all week.

"All I ask from them is that they walk up that tunnel at the end of the game on Friday night and have absolutely zero regrets."

Warren Feeney frustrated at Glentoran
Warren Feeney lost his job at Glentoran after nine months [Inpho]

Even with a squad full of talent, Devine has taken charge at another fractious point in Glentoran's history.

The side are without a trophy since their Irish Cup victory in 2020 and Feeney's time in charge was characterised by fan unrest that came to a head following a 3-0 home defeat to Loughgall three weeks ago.

Devine believes unity and togetherness among both fans and players will be key to restoring the club's fortunes.

"I'm not overly concerned about what went on beforehand because we can't affect that," he said.

"But I do believe that any club that I've worked at before, when there's unity within the group, unity within the fans, a togetherness in terms of players giving everything for the supporters, supporters giving everything to help the players, you give yourself a better chance. "

Feeney did take Glentoran to the County Antrim Shield final in January, where they lost 2-1 to Larne, but an Irish Cup success would represent what would be considered overdue silverware for the club after the investment of recent seasons.

"Glentoran is the biggest club in the Irish League in my opinion," said Devine.

"I came here as a player and the expectation was to win trophies. I'm sure every single one of the players that have signed here in recent years, when they signed that contract, their expectation was to win trophies.

"That comes with being at a big club. Nobody is saying 'we're going to win this, we're going to win that,' but we must give the best of ourselves every single time that we take to the pitch."

Devine himself won the Irish Cup as a Glentoran player, part of a side that beat Glenavon 1-0 in the 1996 final thanks to a sublime Glen Little strike.

Looking back at that team, Devine sees a recipe for success that can be replicated in the modern day.

"There was a lot of talent, Glen Little, Liam Coyle, Justin McBride, but you also had people that would graft and dig in and do the ugly work to allow the technically gifted guys to shine.

"There were really good players there but there were really good, hardy people too. People there that you knew when difficult times were coming, they were able to grind out and dig in."

'I genuinely haven't thought about it'

Silverware would make a compelling case for Devine to get the job on a permanent basis but he says he is more concerned with ensuring the best possible finish to the season for the club and its players.

"I jumped the bandwagon a bit here. The guys worked extremely hard to get to a semi-final. There would be nobody happier for the players than me if they get to the final but I'm here to try and help the players get across the line.

"I genuinely haven't thought about (the job). I'm not here to look at the long-term, I'm here short-term at the minute. I'm here to try and help. That's my sole goal.

"It's been an eventful few weeks for myself. I'm very privileged to be in this building because when you look around, the history of it, the photos on the wall, trophies in every players' hands, it's an absolute privilege to manage Glentoran even if it is only for a few weeks.

"This (opportunity) came about really surprisingly, but you don't say no to Glentoran whether it's six weeks, eight weeks, 10 weeks, two years, five years, it doesn't matter. You just don't say no.

"I see it as a privilege but I'm not looking too far ahead at all."