McFall to remain Glentoran manager as Smyth and Leeman join coaching team

Leeman, Smyth and McFall will form part of the new management team at the Oval
Leeman, Smyth and McFall will form part of the new management team at the Oval

Ronnie McFall has agreed to remain Glentoran manager for the forthcoming season, with ex-players Gary Smyth and Paul Leeman joining the coaching team.

Smyth is named assistant manager on a three-year contract after resigning as boss of Championship side H&W Welders.

Leeman has been handed a role helping to develop the club's young talent, also on a three-year deal.

Kieran Harding remains at the club as joint assistant manager with responsibility for first team coaching.

Former long-serving Portadown manager McFall, 70, took over the reins at the Oval in an interim capacity in February following the sacking of former boss Gary Haveron and had insisted that he would only occupy the role until the end of the season.

Smyth, who also played for Glenavon, Ballymena and Crusaders, won 12 trophies, including two league titles and two Irish Cups, across three spells as a Glentoran player, having made his debut in 1990.

Gary Smyth
Gary Smyth also played for Ballymena United and Crusaders in his Irish League career

Leeman, meanwhile, made 597 appearances for the east Belfast club, with four league and four Irish Cup medals among the 22 major honours he won with them.

A club statement released on Thursday indicated that Leeman would work closely with Under-20s manager David Lowry and the Glentoran Academy "to develop and implement a clear pathway providing first team opportunities for the young talent at the club".

"We are very pleased to have been able to put this management team together," said Glentoran chairman Stephen Henderson.

"Ronnie has agreed to lead a new structure as we prepare the ground for a regime we believe can successfully work to return the club to the sustainable competitive position we all expect.

"It was critical to the club to appoint people that had the correct balance of talent, professionalism, fortitude, hunger and a real connection with a fan base that have remained steadfast and loyal through our difficult recent seasons

"Supporters and the Board have felt for some time that the management team at the Oval needed to include some presence with an understanding of Glentoran and of the standards historically set by the club.

"With Ronnie, Gary and Paul we now have three men who between them amassed 1104 first team appearances and 43 winner's medals during their combined 38 seasons involved with the Glentoran first team.

"We have long wanted to bring Gary and Paul back to the club but on previous occasions time and circumstances weren't right. Now they have returned we are confident their talent, experience and understanding of Glentoran will prove invaluable in the years to come."

Glens lost out in play-off final

The Glens finished seventh in the Irish Premiership during the last campaign and went on to defeat Linfield 4-3 at Windsor Park in a dramatic Europa League play-off semi-final. They subsequently lost 3-2 to Cliftonville at Solitude in the final.

During their search for a manager, the club are understood to have spoken to Dungannon Swifts boss Rodney McAree, while Ards manager Colin Nixon turned down the position.

A number of other contenders for the post are believed to have been interviewed, including former player Nacho Novo, ex-Northern Ireland international Steve Lomas and Darren Murphy, who this week accepted a coaching position at the east Belfast club's rivals Linfield.

Defender Johnny Addis and midfielder James Knowles have recently left the club to join Ballymena United.

"Ronnie has been advising the club on the playing squad, most recently the two year contract extension signed by Robbie McDaid. He has also been identifying targets for next season and will be supported by the board as he and the management team reshape the squad for a better season," continued Henderson.

"We understand the frustrations of supporters at the lack of information up to now but both Ronnie and Gary have spent time out of the country since the season ended. This has been finalised and announced as soon as both men were available, as well as taking into account personal and professional considerations and respect for previous employers."