Boss praises teen McKenna

Michael McKenna has impressed Carrick boss Gary Haveron.
Michael McKenna has impressed Carrick boss Gary Haveron.
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Carrick boss Gary Haveron has praised the performance of Rangers starlet Michael McKenna after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Championship 1 leaders Bangor.

Haveron, not a man who tends to single out players for special mention, was delighted with the 17-year-old Larne lad’s contribution in such a big game.

“He looks like he has been performing at this level all his life. Playing at left-back, even though he is right-footed, he never gave the Bangor players an inch.

“And, more importantly, the leadership qualities we have known he possesses all along shone through brilliantly.

“And we mustn’t forget that on Saturday this was against the league leaders and, not only that, but a team in top form right now, bursting with confidence after dumping both Crusaders and Glentoran out of cup competitions in the last few weeks.

“Michael’s an amazing player for his age.”

Haveron wasn’t pleased to see Miguel Chines’ 88th-minute strike scrubbed out by referee Mervyn Smyth for hand ball.

“Miguel says the ball hit him in the stomach and I would tend to accept that because [Bangor defender] Colin Nixon had tried to hoof the ball away and Miguel was only a yard or so in front of him, so surely he couldn’t have intended to handle it even it had hit his hand,” he said.

“And I was directly in the same line as the referee, so I don’t know how he could tell and I always thought that, in that situation, the call went in favour of the player. He rounded the keeper and put the ball in the net for what would have been a huge winner.

“That said, a draw was probably a fair result and we were fortunate not to be punished for going flat in the second part of the first half, whether it was standing off them or playing too deep. But we got the equaliser at a good time, just before the interval, and deserved the point.”