Manager’s programme notes

Posted : 27th April 2021

Tonight we will take a short break from our Premiership campaign, by welcoming Annagh United to Windsor Park for this tie in the opening round of the Irish Cup competition.

Annagh United have not been able to benefit from a NIFL Championship season for well publicised reasons arising from the corona virus pandemic, so this will have affected their preparations for tonight’s game.

Nevertheless, they will come here determined to make a positive impression, especially with the game being streamed live on BBC online. They will come here with nothing to lose and full of belief that they can pull off a shock result, so we have been thoroughly professional in our preparations for this important game in a hugely prestigious competition.

Ross Larkin had to be withdrawn from Saturday’s game at Mourneview Park due to injury, so he will not be available for tonight’s game. We will assess one or two other players for slight knocks after Saturday’s game, before deciding on our line-up for tonight’s game.

Our only long-term injury absentee remains Kyle McClean and we all wish him well on the road to recovery, following his recent surgery.

Matthew Clarke has recently agreed a contract extension that will pledge his future to the club until the end of the 2022-23 season. He's an important and experienced member of our squad and I'm delighted that our popular full-back has shown his continued commitment and loyalty to the club.

Brandon Doyle, who's been on loan at Warrenpoint, has signed a pre-contract with Crusaders, to take effect at the end of the season.

I was delighted with our recent 2-1 home win against Ballymena but sadly, we were hugely disappointing in Saturday's 3-2 reverse away to Glenavon. Too many players had an off-day at Mourneview Park and we can ill-afford any further such setbacks.

We have a seven point lead at the top of the table going into the league split and it's an advantage that we must protect and maintain over the coming weeks. We have a huge game at the Oval on Saturday and it's one we will turn our full focus to, once tonight's important game is out of the road.

We will go to the Oval aiming to secure the first of the three wins that we need to secure the Premiership title. At this crucial end of the season period, we could do with the vocal backing of our loyal supporters and we really are looking forward to the day when we will be able to welcome our greatly missed supporters back to our games, home and away.

In conclusion, can I send the best wishes of our players, staff and myself to one of our former players Dessie Cathcart who's currently ill in the Ulster Hospital. Dessie and his family have been in the thoughts and prayers of us all.
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