Tragedy at Islandmagee puts Reds’ defeat in perspective, says McConnell

Larne FC boss Graham McConnell
Larne FC boss Graham McConnell
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Larne boss Graham McConnell accepted his men may not have deserved to win but left feeling they played well enough to get something from their trip to Knockbreda last Saturday.

“Of course, it was disappointing to be beaten, it always is. But, unlike the previous game in which we also lost by a goal, this time I don’t think we got what we deserved. I believe should have come away with something,” suggested the Inver Park boss.

“I say that for two reasons. One was that I feel Knockbreda were the poorest team we have played in the league this season. The other is because of the amount of possession we had, particularly in the second half after they scored the early goal.

“I’m not saying we deserved to win, because a victory would have been just as flattering for us as it was for them. But we responded well after the concession and were probably worthy of a point,” reckoned the manager, who then put the disappointment into perspective.

“We were driving home when news reached us of the death of Stuart Ross on the pitch while playing for Islandmagee and suddenly the loss of three points paled into insignificance. We lost a football match, Stuart lost his life.

“As a former manager of Islandmagee FC, I would like to express the sincere condolences of everyone connected to Larne FC to the officials, management and supporters of the club who have suffered such a grievous loss. And our sympathy goes especially to Stuart’s family and friends.

“The memory of what happened will never leave the people who were at their match on Saturday, and I feel some sympathy for them. And I say that with experience of a similar tragedy which happened quite a few years ago, but is still fresh in the minds of all at Inver Park.

“Owen Daly played for us on a Friday night against Coleraine and, sadly, he was killed in a car crash on his way home. Just a couple of hours earlier, we were playing with home and suddenly he was gone. It still makes me feel great sorrow to this day.

“There’s still a picture of Owen in the club and last year when we had the silver anniversary reunion function for the 1987 team we had a minute’s applause in his memory.

“What happened on Saturday show the need for some sort of medical assistance at our matches, whether it be paramedics or ambulances. I’m not saying this would have saved Stuart’s life but I have no doubt that in some instances it could make all the difference.

“Myself and Jim McVeigh were talking earlier in the year about even having a defibrillator installed in the club and maybe it’s time we started the necessary fundraising to obtain this,” suggested the manager, whose team has a free weekend.

“The Steel and Sons Cup is on and I needn’t remind anyone why we are not in this any longer. I am not sure what we will be doing but, if we can’t secure a friendly fixture, then we will have some sort of training session.”