With the new Amateur League season set to get under way today, www.larnetimes.co.uk takes a look at what’s been happening at Premier Division outfit Larne Tech.
With Jeff Russell taking a step back, the Tech have just two managers - Stuart Pike and Stephen Adair - this year instead of three, although there is also a new new coach in Darrin Crawford and a new physio in Darrin’s brother Joe, one-time assistant manager at Wellington Rec.
The Tech made the most ‘talked about’ signing of the summer, luring Andy Waide from Islandmagee. They have lost skipper Gary Haveron to Carrick Rangers, but new boy Adam Black has been looking the part in training. They also lost keeper Chris Keenan to Larne, but bear in mind that he just played in the last couple of months last term, securing his place in the side only when another ex-Larne netminder, the consistent Steven Mills went on holidays. They have also picked up a few players from the now defunct Glenarm.
The Old Boys seemed to have kept the team spirit that saw them through the run-in last season bubbling along nicely, and have been generally impressive in pre-season, especially in that 8-2 victory at home to Championship 1 side Bangor, although there was something of a reality check, in Saturday’s 4-0 defeat to Donegal Celtic.
They will have key players missing for Saturday’s opener, with Glenn Loughins, Damien McLaughlin, Lee Thompson and Andy Waide suspended; Bertie Fulton at cousin Robert Bannon’s wedding, and Steven Mills at the Olympics.
Opening fixtures: Saturday, Shankill United (h); Tuesday, Dunmurry Rec (a)
Players in: Andy Waide, S, Islandmagee; Adam Black, D, Shankill United; Taylor Kirk, D, Nortel; Gary Montgomery, S/D, Glenarm; Cyril McCosh, M, Glenarm; Andrew Kirk, D, Glenarm; Uel Morrow, S, Newington Rangers.
Players out: Gary Haveron, D, Carrick Rangers; Chris Keenan, G, Larne; Ciaran Kelly, S, Wellington Rec
Key player: Glenn Loughins
Last season: 2nd in 1A; 60 points (26 games)
Prospects: Over the past few seasons, promoted sides have found the going tough, but there should be enough quality at the Tech to land them at least a top six slot.