Manager’s programne notes

Posted : 13th October 2018

Today we will face a Newry City team who will take confidence from their last visit to Windsor Park when, as a promotion chasing Championship team, they pushed us all the way in an Irish Cup tie in February, before losing 1-0 in a game they will feel they could and should have taken to extra time.

We have prepared thoroughly for what I know will be a formidable challenge today and as always, we have had our scouts watch Newry in advance of today’s game, so that we are well aware of the strengths they possess and the threats they will present us with.

Our two most recent games have both been close, hard-fought competitive encounters from which I’ve been delighted to come away with maximum points on both occasions.

The Ballymena game here at Windsor Park a fortnight ago was a game in which I thought we showed great character, resilience and patience in overturning an early deficit and then in seeing out the game, by holding on to our hard-earned and deserved 2-1 advantage. The decisive strike by Joel Cooper in front of the reopened Kop Stand was a goal worthy of winning any game and I was delighted with the win to maintain our early season challenge towards the top of the table.

Monday night at the Oval was another fiercely competitive fixture and again, one I was delighted to secure the three points from. The wet and windy conditions made good football difficult but we dug deep to grind out a deserved win against opponents we know will always make life extremely difficult for us. Again, it was a super goal that separated the two teams on the night - a superb dribble from Joel Cooper being clinically finished by Michael O’Connor.

Lorcan Forde, Cameron Stewart, Mark Haughey and Ryan McGivern remain on our long term injury list, although I’m hopeful that the latter will not be too far away from challenging for a place in the squad in the near future.

They have been joined on the injured list in more recent times by Mark Stafford and Chris Casement, although I’m hopeful that Mark could rejoin the squad today.

After Monday night’s game at the Oval, we have a few more injury concerns, with Joel Cooper and Jamie Mulgrew perhaps being our main injury doubts for today’s game.

This weekend marks the third anniversary of my appointment as manager of this great football club. I was humbled and delighted to be given this role and it’s one I love more and more with each passing day. My focus remains winning football games, as that can lead to winning the trophies that everyone at this club craves.

I want to congratulate our Ladies team on winning their impressive third in a row Premier League title with that stunning 5-3 comeback win at the Oval recently and I want to wish them an enjoyable day tomorrow when the trophy is handed back to the team at New Midgley Park after their final league game.

Our support at the Oval was excellent on Monday and it really made a difference on the night. We will need the same encouragement and patience today, to help drive us on to the win we all want to maintain our promising start to what will be a long and demanding season.
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