All change as Warrenpoint target maximum points at Cliftonville
Danske Bank Premiership: Cliftonville v Warrenpoint Town (today, 3pm)
A FEW weeks ago, it would barely have seemed credible for a Warrenpoint player to target taking a single point, never mind all three, from a game against Cliftonville at Solitude.
But a few weeks make a big difference in football and Warrenpoint midfielder Ciarán O’Connor is eager to continue the upward curve the club have been on recently.
When Cliftonville last met Warrenpoint, at Milltown in the middle of last month, Stephen McDonnell’s men were on a wretched run of form, having lost all six of their opening Danske Bank Premiership games, shipping 22 goals in the process, while the Reds were aiming to reinforce their title credentials. Heading into injury-time that afternoon, six defeats looked set to become seven until two late goals turned the game on its head and Warrenpoint’s season around.
Since that game, Warrenpoint are unbeaten in the league, with further wins against Dungannon and Ards and draws with Glentoran and Newry pulling them clear of the relegation zone.
Cliftonville, for their part, have stuttered so far this season and are only three points ahead of Warrenpoint in the table, despite the south Down club’s disastrous start to the campaign.
You can see, then, why the attack-minded O’Connor might be confident about today’s assignment: “We will go into Saturday’s game against Cliftonville with a positive attitude and be going to get all three points,” he said.
“But as I said already, we won’t get anything without hard work. It’s not going to be, by any means, easy, but we will treat it like any other game and hopefully we take something from the game.”
O’Connor is in his second spell at Warrenpoint and, having spent last season at Finn Harps, he is determined to make the most of his time back in the Irish League.
“It’s great to be back at Warrenpoint, I have always enjoyed my time at the club and, now I’m back for my second stint, I love it more than I did before,” he added.
“The people running this club and the fans are all great. It’s a club that has always got the best out of me and I couldn’t be happier right now.”
There is a real sense of togetherness at Warrenpoint at present, with another last-gasp win over Ards last time out underlining the never say die attitude the players have brought to their recent recovery.
However, O’Connor is determined the coaching staff at Milltown take their fair share of the credit for recent performances: “We are on a great run at the minute and long it may continue,” he said.
“On the personal side, it’s good to be finding my feet again and enjoying my football, but I couldn’t do it without the management team and the players around me.
“It’s a team with great togetherness and, as a team, we are all buying into what Stevie [manager Stephen McDonnell] and Colly [coach Colm Barron] are trying to do at this club. I think, on a Saturday, everyone can see we are a proper team willing to work hard to get a result. So I believe, if we keep going, the togetherness and hard work will take us a long way.
“But we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves.”