New Islandmagee boss Duff wants ‘heart, desire and fight’ from players

Islandmagee manager Mark Duff

Islandmagee manager Mark Duff

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Islandmagee’s new boss, Mark Duff, insists his players will have to show ‘heart, fight and desire’ as he battles to keep them in the Amateur League’s Premier Division.

Duff (inset), who took the job at Wilbourne Park last Thursday, succeeds David Rollo following his sacking after a string of poor results.

He takes over with the club bottom of the table and in real danger of dropping out of the top flight.

The 41-year-old former Linfield Ladies’ manager admits he has been handed a difficult assignment.

“It’s a big challenge,” the Greenisland man said. “It looks grim on paper but one of the questions I asked myself before taking on the role is: can I go there and make a difference? I think I can, but whether that’s good enough to keep the club up remains to be seen. But my aim is very simple: I want to work hard and bring a bit of stability to the club.

“I have said to the players that we don’t know where we’re going to end up. If we get relegated, we get relegated with a fight. If we stay up, then we’ve done a fantastic job. But no matter what happens, we hope to change the course of things at the minute because it’s been pretty poor.”

While Duff says he will give everything he’s got to management, he maintains the players have a vital role to play.

“We can put on the best coaching sessions in the world, but it’s up to them to go out and prove a point on the pitch. It’s a blank canvas for them to play for their positions, but with a bit of hunger and desire about them, you never know what could happen.”

The task at hand was made all the more evident on Saturday when the Island were thumped 9-0 at Albert Foundry. Duff will be in the dugout for the first time for this weekend’s visit of Ards Rangers and, while most won’t give his men a chance against the champions, he’ll be hoping the performance will be the first spark of a revival in fortunes.

“I want to bring a few players in. I have the feelers out already, so I’m hoping to add a wee bit of quality to what’s already there.

“We’ve a young squad, lacking in confidence, having been turned over quite a bit, but I am looking at young, hungry players to come in and make a name for themselves at this level. I want all the players to run through brick walls for me.”

He added: “One thing I will say is there is going to be a lot more heart and desire and fight from the team.”