Chairman: Irvine injury affected Larne team

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Everything is very positive around Inver Park these days, so it’s perhaps a bit of a surprise that chairman Archie Smyth admits he was not overly excited by the season just past.

“I was moderately happy at how things panned out,” said Smyth, explaining that the high hopes he had at Christmas for a promotion push didn’t become a reality.

“At the turn of the year, I thought we were going to be promoted and I firmly believe that we would have been, had it not been for the very unfortunate accident involving Scott Irvine. That put the whole thing out of kilter and I honestly believe that cost the team all their momentum.

“We were flying at the time and in those first 20 minutes against Carrick we were playing them off the park. Scottie was a very important part of the team and his loss was a major blow.

“We didn’t have a lot of strength in depth in what was a small squad and we never really recovered from what happened that day, albeit finishing fifth was the best we had achieved for quite a few years.

“Davy McAlinden has worked wonders and he is a terrific manager. His achievements with what is a very tight budget are hugely impressive and a credit to him and his hardworking backroom staff.”

Smyth revealed that as well as fielding an reserve team next year, Larne Youth are now on board with the Inver Reds, bringing a major boost to the pool of talent available.

“Next season we are going to have an Olympic team which will be managed by Robert McKee.

“There will also be a boost with the affiliation of Larne Youth who will now be under our umbrella - and that will mean we will be able to bring players through from kids up to U19s, the Olympic and into the first team,” he said.

But where is all the money coming from in order to finance this?

“The long-awaited DCAL money is due to come through, the first of it in September and rest before Christmas, and we have asked for four million pounds to fund our extensive plans,” Smyth said.

“These include new changing rooms, a new stand, new 3g playing pitch and a 3g training pitch where the car park is, plus lots of other associated items.

“The plans for all these are already in place, so we are good to go as soon as the money is released.

“And Fergusson Coal, who were our main sponsors last season, have just confirmed they will be our main sponsors again next year.

“Thus, everything is looking very good for the club and I believe Davy, who is ambitious and resourceful, is the man to lead us on the playing side and he will help us achieve our promotion goal, hopefully by this time next year,” added the Inver chief.