Time passes when you’re having fun and it’s so refreshing to see Glentoran legend Michael Holiday still playing with a smile on his face.
The Allied Cup heroes with the Glens are still fondly remembered, but it is difficult to accept their winner in the deciding 2001 match against old foe Linfield, who is now more than 20 years old.
He scored 141 goals in 468 appearances during 11 unforgettable years with the East Belfast Giants.
But the Irish Cup will always hold a special place in his heart.
In fact, his first match as a fan was the 1987 final, when Gerry Mullan was on the scoresheet in the Glens’ 1–0 win against Larne at Windsor Park.
Imagine how lovely it must have been to win a trophy with your boyhood club.
Three Irish league titles and two Irish Cups were celebrated with another winning goal coming against Coleraine in the 2004 decider.
Holiday lost a few finals with Glens and the Crusaders but in four with Glentoran, he scored in three of them.
Full of Irish Cup folklore but the 42-year-old is still hungry to write another brilliant chapter.
Last season’s finalist Larne is a visitor to Clandeboy Park tomorrow afternoon where Holiday will use all of her experience to help the Seasiders.
The two clubs come from different financial realities, with Invermen now a full-time club owned by Kenny Bruce, while Bangor is coming back from the financial meltdown, fighting in the Premier Intermediate League and swimming with the big boys again. are inspired to.
If you made a winner in the Big Two finals, it’s a moment in your life that’s hard to top, but after the pandemic emerged, Holiday is grateful for prolonging their Irish Cup romance.
“I’m still trying to play, it’s funny because it seems like the longest pre-season ever,” he said.
“There were five or six pre-seasons because things were knocked back.
“It is good to be back playing every Saturday. It was disappointing as was the training but the dates kept increasing. We’ve got an Irish Cup match and at my age you wonder if this is your last chance. Luckily, we’re playing back.
“I feel every bit of 42! I was always told to play as long as you can and in the league we are in, I can handle it just fine. The club has cans of cold water which are fine help to be.
“I’ll keep going as long as I’m fit and enjoying it. Plus it’s a great changing room to be a part of.”
The last time Larne and Bangor were on their way to the championship, with the Seasiders winning with goals from Barry Walsh and Jordan Lucas.
“We are in a league with the likes of Armagh, Newington and Dollingstown,” said Holiday. “The club has always wanted to go back to its glory days.
“It was a long way to go for the Ballymena League and they want to move on and achieve promotion. It will take time to reach the Premiership, but that is the goal of the club.
“Larne are a top side. It shows you what a club can be. Larne was a Premier League team but never challenged for the title. With investment and full-time football they are flying. They know That’s how to hit the ball and they have great players.
He said, “They just beat Glens at The Oval which shows you what level they are at. We are under no illusions, it will be a tough game but hopefully our boys will respond to the challenge. Want to play in all kinds of games and test yourself against the best and Larne will be considered as one of the best in this country.
“You hope you can give your good account and if you get the green, you never know what could happen.
“We are fully aware that we need to play very well and Larne needs to spend an average day. But it is the Irish Cup and everyone is dreaming of getting that big result. It’s a big question but hopefully we’ll be ready for it on Saturday.”
With Holiday experience, Mark Cooling was at Lisburn Distillery while Ryan has been with Arthur Carrick and Ards. Players like Paul Dixon, Carl Devine, Lewis Harrison and Ben Arthurs all have championship experience.
The frontman knows where the trap is but in a recent conflict he ends up in the business of target prevention.
“We were playing Armagh and it was a weird game,” admitted Holiday. “I scored to make it 1-0, but our keeper got hit on the head while awarding the penalty.
“He had to come out and then the subkeeper shook a bit after 10 minutes. Oddly enough, the two keepers were replaced, and someone had to get into the trap!”
There should be a good crowd at Clandeboy tomorrow as the Seasiders want to throw Larne into a cup storm.
“It would be nice to have a bigger crowd at Clandeboy and Larne would bring a good support,” Holiday said.
“We hope to put up a fight and give them a game.
“I have wonderful memories of the Irish Cup, but I am thinking of 2001 which was 20 years ago! Life flies by and I’ve never been part of a giant-kill because of the teams I’ve been in.
“It would be nice to get one of those before I hang up my shoes.
“Last year we were beaten by Carrick, a Premiership side, but it was on penalties.
“The Irish league is getting better and the top players are coming in. The full-time dimension has enhanced the competitiveness of the league.
“There are six teams that can possibly win the league so that becomes a more interesting product.
“Bangor may take a few years to return there but the club structure is in place, they have a great youth system and the board has ambition. Financially they cannot compete with the wealthy clubs but on the aspirational pitch and Have to keep improving outside.”