THREE wins in a week have taken Larne Tech to second place in Division 1a and promotion back into the Premier Division next season.
The Tech had it all to do, after stumbling to a one-goal defeat at Abbey Villa the previous Saturday, and simply had to win their three remaining matches, away to second placed Derriaghy Cricket Club, home to leaders Ardglass, and then home to bottom club Saintfield United.
Like Nortel last season, and Islandmagee when they got out of 1a under Graham McConnell, the Tech did it the hard way, for that defeat at Abbey Villa, who needed a point to stay up, was the only time the Antivilleians had been beaten in the league since early November. In 14 league games since the start of March, they had collected 35 points out of a possible 42; 11 wins, 2 draws (against Crumlin United and UUJ) and of course that defeat by Abbey Villa..
Understandably, manager Jeff Russell was delighted afterwards, stressing: “It has been a tremendous all-round team effort. I can’t praise the players highly enough, especially in that run in. It was the team spirit that saw us through. I couldn’t have asked for anything more; they never once shirked their responsibility.
“And Stuart Pike and Stevie Adair coming into the management team – the amount of work they’ve put in has been unbelievable, the professionalism in the way they’ve prepared for matches. And their enthusiasm has been infectious.
“We’ve also had great back up and support from the football committee. Everything behind the scenes has been so well organised. All in all, a brilliant team effort - off and on the pitch. We scored 110 goals, yet the leading goalscorer has only 17. That shows just how many players have done their part, scoring vital goals.
“I think it’s good that the town has had a bit of success, and I’m pleased to see other local clubs doing well too – big Graham (McConnell) nearly won promotion at Newington Rangers; Kenny Thompson had been doing well at Wellington, and up until a few weeks ago, it looked as though Islandmagee were going to win the Premier League!”