Manager’s programme notes

Posted : 2nd February 2019

Today we will face a huge challenge to our hopes of making progress in the Irish Cup when we come up against familiar ‘foes’ in Crusaders. We couldn’t have asked for a tougher tie at this relatively early stage of the competition but if you want to win the major cup competitions, you have to beat the big teams at some stage, so you just have to accept and overcome the cup draw that you are dealt.

We are in a fine run of form and results at present but the challenge is always the next game and the aim is always to secure the next win, rather than dwell on recent games..

On Monday night we were really pleased with the 4-2 win against Glentoran. After a positive first half when we led 2-0, we let our opponents back into the game with two quick goals but we showed immense character to go on and win the game, with two very pleasing and important late strikes from Chris Casement and Michael O’Connor.

I’ve been delighted to welcome Marek Cervenka from Czech club, FK Teplice on loan until the end of the season. He’s also played with Slavia Prague and he impressed on a week long trial in January, as well as in a training game against Portadown at New Midgley Park. He will increase our striking options over the course of the rest of the season.

Everyone has been so disappointed with the news that initial scan results, following the recent Seaview game have revealed that Roy Carroll has sustained a serious cruciate injury that will rule him out for the rest of the season.

We are all so sorry for Roy who has been such a positive influence for us, on and off the pitch and I know how popular he is with our supporters who I know have been greatly saddened by this news.

However, injuries and suspensions are part and parcel of the game and this major setback will bring our squad even closer together, as we face up to a huge schedule of important fixtures in the coming weeks and months.

Injuries always provide opportunities to others and I have every faith in young Gareth Deane who has played in a significant number of big games in our first team. He got his chance in the recent games against Newry and Glentoran and in the past few days, we will have moved to bring in an additional goalkeeper, to maintain competition levels within the squad over the remainder of the season.

Following several comeback games with the Swifts, Ryan McGivern returned to the first team squad on the bench for Monday night’s ‘Big Two’ game and his return from injury will strengthen our squad and increase competition levels over the remainder of the season.

I expect Stephen Fallon and Andrew Mitchell to be unavailable today, following injuries they picked up in the recent Newry game and we will also be missing Lorcan Forde and Mark Haughey today.

Our support was excellent in Monday night’s ‘Big Two’ derby game against Glentoran and we will need that support to be even greater today, if we are to secure what would be a huge win, to see us into the ‘hat’ for the draw for the next round of this hugely prestigious competition, for this much sought after trophy.
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Kick-off : 23rd February at 3pm
Venue : Windsor Park
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