McConnell looks ahead to Dundela

Larne boss Graham McConnell.
Larne boss Graham McConnell.

Graham McConnell had no worries about the controversy over the issues for local clubs associated with the postponement of Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Russia. Indeed, he admits he’s still trying to come to terms with the disappointment of Larne’s last competitive outing - a harrowing 6-0 derby defeat to Carrick Rangers.

“I don’t really want to talk about it [the derby], to tell you the truth. I have not very much good to say about it, so I would just prefer to say nothing,” explained the Inver Park manager, who feels his team was not inconvenienced by events surrounding the scheduled weekend international which fell foul of the weather.

Some people felt the IFA acted in haste when they called off all games in the top three sectors of local football on the Friday afternoon, rather than issuing a warning that this would be the case if Windsor Park failed a pitch inspection on Saturday morning.

But McConnell believes Larne’s game with Dergview would probably have been called off regardless. “I was convinced it would have been a wipeout for football last Saturday anyway.

“At the end of the day, the weather is always going to be a problem at times and we just have to accept that and get on with it.

“Now our focus is on the match against Dundela, with a trip to them a daunting prospect as always. They are the surprise package in this division. After being promoted from Chanpionship Two last season, most people thought they might struggle.

“But manager Mark Snodden has worked wonders with them and they are sitting second in the table. Mark has been a great servant of the club over many years and he must have learned a lot about coaching and managing from the legendary Mervyn Bell.

“It’s always a very difficult fixture and they have been playing very well all season. They have scored more goals than any other team in the division, but they have conceded more than anybody else in the top half of the table.

“However, we will go there with confidence and it’s very important for us to get a result because we’re at that stage of the season now where you need to make sure you aren’t sucked into a relegation dogfight.

“We are determined to climb a bit higher in the table so as not to be in the danger zone going into the last two of three weeks when the pressure would start to build,” added McConnell.