TOMORROW we make the long trip west to take on an ever improving Ballinamallard United side under the guidance of former ‘Inver Red’ Harry McConkey.
The young ‘Mallards are gradually turning the tide and climbing the table, as the fruits of Harry’s early season labours have started to pay dividends.
Make no mistake about it, Harry is a top-class coach and in Richard Clarke they have one of the best in the business leading them on the park. We are in no doubt about the size of the task in front of us, but on the back of last Saturdays defeat of Dundela, we travel in confidence.
Before moving on from last Saturday’s game, could I take this opportunity to congratulate Jeff Hughes, the scorer of our opener against Dundela, on winning the NIFWA Championship Player of the Month award for November. This recognition is nothing less than Jeff deserves, the application and commitment shown to the cause since his arrival ‘back home’ has been second to none and I think everyone in the town will echo my sentiments; well done pal.
Well, what a second half we put in last week to see off the Duns! The first half saw us fight the conditions and a resolute Dundela rearguard, but after the break we found our rhythm and our quality came to the fore, with strikes from David Scullion and a well-deserved treble for Davy McDaid.
Collectively, in the stands, on the bench and on the pitch, I don’t think I have ever seen smiles as wide or high fives as handsome to honour Davy’s goals. The lad has worked tirelessly for the team over the last few months, with no personal rewards to show for it. Yes, he was feeling it but he kept working hard, even coming in on his days off to work on his finishing. These things don’t go unnoticed and it shows the mark of the guy to make these sacrifices in an attempt to find his form again. Davy, form is temporary, class is permanent and thankfully you ooze the latter both on and off the pitch – well done.
Before concluding on last Saturday, it was a great personal pleasure of mine to welcome Paul Malone and a number of the players from the late 80’s to the game last Saturday as guests of the club. The boys had an absolute ball and couldn’t thank me enough upon leaving, the football was good, the welcome was good and the hospitality was, ‘Larne Style’…! I’m currently working on a few guests from old for the Boxing Day and Irish Cup fixtures, its great to see the old boys buy into what we are trying to build here and long may it continue.
Sunday night saw Kenny Bruce, the board, management and players give a presentation to members of the Inver Read & Whites in a packed-out Agnew Lounge. The evening exuded positivity from all involved and I think the supporters left with a clear view of what to expect coming down the line, and also that the club is in safe hands to ensure all our goals are met and delivered upon. I thank everyone for their support and I look forward to the next session once we have put another few key pieces into the jigsaw.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my wife Karen and everyone who donated to the Larne FC / Salvation Army Christmas Toy Appeal. Across the last three home games we had over 150 gifts donated from the #RAWA to help those less fortunate in our local community this Christmas. On Monday Karen delivered these gifts to an overwhelmed Salvation Army volunteer in the Dunluce Street shop. Thank you for helping us help others, it’s a red and white thing!
Finally, can I think the supporters who volunteered their time and skills to give our club shop a makeover last week, it is greatly appreciated. Our recently appointed board members William Carson and Andrew McNickle along with their wives have picked up the baton on the running of the shop and from what I have seen to date they are going to make a terrific success of it. The old saying goes ‘Divide the task and multiply the success’, I believe this will ring true here. Watch this space for exciting additions in the New Year.
Travel in numbers tomorrow and get behind us from the off…