Darren Mullen aims to make the most of top flight football's return to Newry
Danske Bank Premiership: Newry City v Dungannon Swifts; Linfield v Institute (tonight, 7.45pm)
TOP flight football returns to Newry tonight, and City manager Darren Mullen is determined his charges make the most of their big occasion against Dungannon Swifts.
Newry City AFC have taken just five years to make it from the Mid-Ulster League’s Intermediate B division to the Danske Bank Premiership, having been founded in 2013 to fill the vacuum left by the winding up of Newry City FC.
Tonight, the Showgrounds will again host a Premiership game, probably a lot sooner than some people had expected.
“It’s good to get Premiership football back in the town,” said Mullen last night.
“It’s been a long time coming but, then again, we’re back quicker than we thought we would be. We’re expecting a good crowd at the Showgrounds tomorrow night and hopefully we’ll have a good atmosphere and a good result.”
City’s first game in the top flight was a 1-0 defeat away to Institute last weekend, but Mullen isn’t getting disheartened by that rocky opening.
“We were disappointed with the result last week, but certainly not with the performance,” he added.
“The boys applied themselves them well and I thought we deserved a draw from the game. But this is what happens at this level if you’re not ruthless enough. Every game in this league is difficult and we need to show that we're good enough to be here and the only way you do that is by getting results.”
Mullen certainly doesn’t see Newry’s presence in the Danske Bank Premiership this season as a free hit.
“It’s early days to be setting targets, but I’ve said all along that our aim this season has to be to finish as high as possible up the league, not just scraping survival by the skin of our teeth,” he said.
“We need to compete as best we can. People say we’ve nothing to lose this year, given where we’ve come from but, when you think about it, we’ve everything to lose – especially after all the hard work that’s been put in.”
City will be without defender Tiarnán Rushe for tonight’s game due to his Gaelic football commitments with Ballyholland but, that aside, they are at full strength.
Elsewhere tonight, Linfield will be hoping to build on last weekend’s opening day win away to Glenavon when they host Institute at Windsor Park.