I owe a lot to Ian Baraclough for making my Northern Ireland dream a reality, says Glentoran ace Conor McMenamin

Glentoran star Conor McMenamin has confessed he was gutted when Ian Barraclough lost his job as manager of Northern Ireland.

While Baraclough was an unpopular figure in the Green and White Army due to Northern Ireland’s disappointing results during his tenure, McMenamin is grateful to the former Motherwell boss for giving him his international debut at age 26 years old.

The Downpatrick star earned four caps under the Leicester-born chief and was one of the few players to inspire positivity during Northern Ireland’s dismal Nations League campaign.

McMenamin explained: “I was gutted for Ian Baraclough. I immediately texted him.

“I owe him a lot. He fulfilled my dream of playing for my country at the highest level.

“I will never forget this opportunity he gave me. The boys really enjoyed playing for him and I hope whatever opportunity he has in the future, he will do very well.

While Baraclough’s tenure was terminated by the Irish FA last month, McMenamin hopes the manager’s sacking will not mark the end of his international career.

The striker is in the form of his life, with Glentoran still unbeaten in the Danske Bank Premiership. McMenamin – who has scored seven league goals this season – has been named Dream Spanish Homes Player of the Month by the Northern Ireland Football Writers’ Association.

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Conor McMenamin receives the award from NIFWA President Ruth Gorman

Conor McMenamin receives the award from NIFWA President Ruth Gorman

“Whoever the new manager is, I hope my form at Glentoran gets me into the next team. It’s something I can control with my performance. I know I’ll have to keep working hard, but I believe that I have something to offer,” he said.

“When I was with the international team, I absorbed everything I could. You have to be a sponge in situations like this.

While McMenamin is happy with the Bet McLean Oval, his performances have caught the attention of Football League scouts.

The former Cliftonville man may be 27 but he hasn’t ruled out a cross-Channel move.

He clarified: “I didn’t hide anything about it. Every footballer wants to play at the highest level possible and I am no different.

“If the opportunity arises in January or in the summer, I will take a look at it, but I must continue to do well so that Glentoran gets this decision if it ever materializes.

“I think that means you’re doing well if people are talking about you before the transfer windows, so that’s not a bad thing.”

In the meantime, McMenamin aims to help the Glens achieve their ambition of ending a title drought dating back to 2009.

He added: “I think everyone likes coming to training and the environment is very good.

“The blunderer ( Mick McDermott) signed very well this summer and brought in top-level pros. Tim McCann has also arrived and he’s working on set pieces. We look like a real threat and don’t concede a lot of set plays.

“It looks good and may it continue for a long time.”

McMenamin believes the east Belfast club learned from last season when they failed to win a trophy or qualify for Europe.

“When we beat Linfield last year to pick up a few points everyone thought ‘they’re dancing and singing’, and now it’s a different mentality.

“The gaffer doesn’t let us get too far ahead of ourselves, and I know it’s an old cliché but we just have to keep taking it one game at a time and looking to come away with three points every Saturday, against who it is.

“It starts with the gaffer, he doesn’t do as many interviews and he keeps us grounded. He feeds off the whole team.

“It rubs off on all of us. We were top of the league in January or February of last year and it’s only early November now so we all know there’s a long, long way to go and there’s no point in being too excited because there are so many good teams in the league, and if you get too far ahead of yourself, you get punished, like we did last year.

Today Glentoran welcome 11th-placed Dungannon Swifts to The Oval.

Despite the 24-point gap between the two clubs, McMenamin isn’t taking anything for granted.

“You could see last week that Larne had so many corners in the first half, there were boys who wanted to put their bodies on the line to put their heads on the ball to keep it out of our net,” he said. he declared.

“We will play the same way against Dungannon.

“Every team in this league deserves that level of respect.”