Football/Soccer

Newry City AFC hope to complete comeback to top flight

Newry City, managed by Darren Mullen, have gained three promotions in four years since returning to competitive football
Andy Watters

Danske Bank Irish Premiership play-off, first leg: Newry City v Carrick Rangers (tonight, Newry Showgrounds, 7.45pm)

IT wasn't only a few weeks after Newry City had lost 3-0 to Carrick Rangers in the Northern Ireland Championship back in 2012 that the county Down club was sent reeling by a winding up order.

Since that dark day, Newry City AFC has emerged from the rubble and, after three promotions in four years, the club stands just two games away from completing its comeback from the dead.

Darren Mullen's men face Carrick Rangers – the side that finished bottom of the Danske Bank Premiership – over two legs and have home advantage for the first one tonight.

Manager Mullen will know that history is against his side – the last time a Championship team won the play-off was in 2013 when Newry's near neighbours Warrenpoint Town clinched promotion to the top flight.

Five players from that team - John Boyle, Keith Johnston, Darren King, Mark Hughes and Stephen Hughes - are now with Newry but even with their experience, Mullen accepts that his men begin the 180 minutes of action as underdogs.

“Carrick will come in as favourites,” said Mullen.

“But it's a challenge I feel we are up to.”

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