Glentoran legend Billy Caskey believes Conor McMenamin can still do a great leap across the water at the age of 27.
cMenamin was included on Ian Baraclough’s judging panel for this month’s Nations League doubles game against Kosovo and Greece and the Glens favorite’s profile has been raised with international recognition.
The former Cliftonville ace has made three appearances for Northern Ireland and since his Cyprus debut in June the winger has shown he belongs on the big stage.
There was speculation that a move could happen in the summer but McMenamin has remained at the BetMcLean Oval where he has carried over his magical form into this season.
Provided a reasonable transfer fee is submitted by an interested party, Glentoran will be in business in January, but the Downpatrick man can also provide the firepower the East Belfast side need to clinch the title.
Glens legend Caskey, who won seven caps for Northern Ireland from 1978 to 1982, says McMenamin still has time to secure a glamor move.
“Conor has shown very strong performances and is a real quality player,” said Caskey.
“He does it for club and country and hopefully at some point he can take his career above the water to the next level.
“I know he’s 27 but in his day he’s one of the best players in the league and if he keeps fit he can have a long career in football.
“I played for the Glens until I was 37. If he keeps doing the right things and a club is willing to give him a chance, he could have a new challenge elsewhere.
“I think Conor would do well at a Championship club in England and you never know. He has a lot of experience and is a match winner.”
McMenamin and his team-mates are focused on ending the dismal Nations League run in Northern Ireland, which stretches to 14 games without a win.
Back-to-back relegations are a possibility after a summer of poor results and growing disillusionment among fans.
Baraclough is aiming to take part in next year’s Euro 2024 qualifier but he and the players are under significant pressure to record a positive result against Kosovo at Windsor Park on Saturday before a more difficult test in Greece on Tuesday.
McMenamin was one of the bright lights amidst the darkness, and Caskey is thrilled that Baraclough is showing faith in the hero of Glentoran.
“The international profile will help him and you can see clubs showing interest,” added Caskey, who spent a career spanning over 18 years as a senior with England’s top flight Derby County and Tulsa Roughnecks.
“I have no doubt that Conor is ambitious and like every player wants to play at as high a level as possible.
“Maybe he’s in his prime right now, but he has a lot more to give to Glentoran or any other team as he moves on.
“It’s great to see an international manager show confidence in a top Irish League player and Conor has done a good job. His performances will draw attention.”
One of the greatest players of all time to ever don a Glentoran jersey, Caskey has won 22 medals, including three championships and four Irish cups.
“The Glens started well last season and then went down so nobody’s going to get carried away,” added the former midfielder, who played 440 games for the Glens and scored 110 goals.
“You can get too cocky in this game when things are going well, but hopefully that doesn’t happen.
“It’s about time the Glens win the league, they haven’t done that since 2009 and that’s a long time. The boys are playing well at the moment and it’s nice to see that hopefully they can face a challenge this season.
“They seem to have a good squad and Mick (McDermott) and Big Windy (Paul Millar) get them to perform. I wish them all the best, as does the international team. I also like Shayne Lavery, he’s a real worker and the kind of player I like. It’s a difficult time with players getting older and young ones breaking through but hopefully we can compete for another big tournament.”
Baraclough gave an upbeat assessment of his squad yesterday. All 24 members of his board are fit for the double header.
“This is a chance to correct some of the errors from the results we had (in June),” he said. “It’s a much stronger squad with a more familiar look.
“We want to create opportunities and we want to be a threat to the opponent and we have the armory in the squad to do that.”
West Ham United U21 head coach Mark Robson has joined his backroom squad.
Robson’s CV includes stints with England’s Under-19 and Under-21 teams, as well as at club level with Peterborough and Barnet. In his current role with the Hammers, he works alongside Northern Ireland development team players Michael Forbes, Callum Marshall and Patrick Kelly.
“I played with Mark in Notts County and since then he has developed into a very capable coach who will bring experience and know-how. We look forward to him getting to work,” said Baraclough.
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sport/football/international/northern-ireland-and-glentoran-ace-conor-mcmenamin-can-still-get-move-across-the-water-believes-billy-caskey-42005332.html Northern Ireland and Glentoran ace Conor McMenamin can still get move across the water, believes Billy Caskey