With the new Amateur League season set to get under way this weekend, www.larnetimes.co.uk takes a look at each of our local teams ahead of Saturday’s big kick-off. We start our preview with Division 1C side Newington Rangers.
With Graham McConnell away to Larne Olympic, there was something of a shock for new boss Davy Rollo, who was soon left with just one player from last year’s squad, one of his old ‘Whitehead Eagles’ - Matt McDonald. Defender Eddie Adams, admittedly, has also signed, but will miss the opening weeks of the campaign. Also out for the big kick-off is striker William Grattan, son of Jim, snapped up from Ballymena United.
There are a few new faces, though they are mostly players new assistant manager Alan Hughes had at Whitehead Eagles Seconds last season.
Davy concedes that he probably had a more experienced side in 2b last season at Whitehead, but pointed out: “I’ve a few targets still in mind. I need to try and get some experience in there. Most of the team are kids!”
Opening fixtures: Saturday, Steel and Sons, Bangor Amateurs (a); Thursday, league, 18thNewtownabbey OB (h).
Players in: William Grattan, S, Ballymena United; Lee Crockett, M/S, Islandmagee; Ricky Johnston, M, Red Star; Steven McConnell, S, Bloomfield; John Brennan, M. from Whitehead Eagles: Clarke Montgomery, S/M; Daryl Ingram, S; Adam Glover, D; Eddie Wilson, M, Tyler Livingstone, D; Scott Louden, G; Adam McGivern, M; Chris Hughes, D. Ryan McDonald, M, Larne Youth; Jamie Magill, D, Larne Youth; Stuart Carlisle, M, Carrick Youth; Darren Tennant, S, Larne Youth
Players out: Paul Waite, D, Barn United; Wayne Patterson, S/M, Barn United; Martyn Stirling, S, Wellington Rec; David McCormick, M, Wellington Rec; Stephen Harbinson, G, Chimney Corner; Stephen Tierney, D; Rab Steele, M, Rathfern Rangers; Matthew Hyslop, D, Wellington Rec; Uel Morrow, S, Larne Tech OB; Colin McClean, M, retired; Noel Dean, D, new manager Temple Rangers; Tony McCune, M; Gareth McConnell, M; Chris McConnell, D/M, Wellington Rec; Paul Tumilty, D, Whitehead Eagles; Aaron McGrath, G.
Key player: Matt McDonald.
Last season: 5th in 1c, 44 points (26 matches)
Prospects: Fifth last season, and fourth the year before that, Newington will do well to reach anything like those heights this time round – unless Rollo can unearth some older heads from somewhere. The only consolation is that Kilroot Rec are in the same boat and the two could be battling it out at the wrong end of the table.