There are no ifs, buts or maybes in the reply when Davy McAlinden is asked about his aims and ambitions for this season: Larne’s target is to win Championship 1.
It’s actually incredibly refreshing to listen to the former Cliftonville defender as the manager looks forward to the bid to return Premiership football to Inver Park, his enthusiasm for the challenge very evident.
“We have got to try to win the division this season. That’s why I became involved and I explained that when I joined Larne that we would be trying to win everything we are involved in,” said McAlinden.
“Having watched the action in this division for the last 18 months, I genuinely believe there is no reason why we can’t win the title. That’s got to be our aim, not least because most of these boys have come to this club because they want to be promoted.”
The formula for achieving this ambition, McAlinden feels, is the ability to prevent opposition from scoring.
“We have always been able to score goals, that’s never been a problem but we have had to tighten up at the back and we have been working hard on that defensive aspect of our play. If we get that right, then who knows how well we can do,” added the manager.
His views were perhaps borne out by the last two pre-season matches, an 8-0 win over Glebe Rangers, followed by a 4-3 victory at home against Ballymena United.
But injuries are posing problems ahead of Saturday’s opening Championship 1 match against Dergview, with concerns over Darren Stuart, Craig Todd and Conal Burns. Definite absentees are Eoin Gillan, Stuart Scott, suspended John Donnelly and, of course, Scott Irvine.
“Players picking up knocks is the downside to pre-season matches, which are a necessary evil. But the test against Dergview is a great start for us and we will go there with confidence.
“We will be going to win and with a positive attitude. The people pay their cash at the turnstiles to be entertained and, whatever else happens this season, that’s we will be striving to do for our supporters in every single match” he added.