Difficult first day at the office for Gary Boyle and Newry City

Loughgall players celebrate Saturday's victory over Newry City at the Showgrounds                   PICTURE: Pacemaker
Loughgall players celebrate Saturday's victory over Newry City at the Showgrounds PICTURE: Pacemaker

Sports Direct Premiership: Newry City 0 Loughgall 3

NEWRY City manager Gary Boyle is well aware of the size of the task in front of him after his side endured an opening day humbling at the hands of newly promoted Loughgall at the Showgrounds on Saturday.

Boyle recently took over the hot seat at the south Down club having spent six years as assistant to Darren Mullen, and is hoping to at least secure Newry’s top flight status in his first season in charge.

However, the size of the job in front of him became painfully clear on Saturday as visitors Loughgall left the Showgrounds with all three points after a fine display. Caolan Loughran grabbed a double for the north Armagh man, while Nathaniel Ferris got the other from the spot, all the goals coming before half-time.

Thomas Lockhart underlined Newry’s nightmare day at the office when he was shown a straight red card late on for kicking out at a Loughgall player.

“We knew it was going to be difficult and that Loughgall weren’t going to make the opening day easy for us, and as it turned out, we weren’t able to deal with them,” said a disappointed Boyle.

“We learned that if you don’t come to the party every week, you’re going to get beat. We’ve done well in pre-season, we’ve had a lot of positive performances and unfortunately, on the biggest day, we’ve let ourselves down.

“We’d talked about making sure we had a positive start to the season and improving on some things from last year, but we didn’t deliver on that, so now it’s back to the drawing board.”  

City escaped a relegation play-off by the skin of their teeth last season, shading Dungannon Swifts to guarantee safety on goal difference, and Boyle knows his side are most likely facing into another battle for top flight survival.

“Realistically, we’re probably targeting staying in the division, that’s where we are at given the size of the club, and Saturday compounded the challenge we’re facing given that we were facing a rival who will be expected to be down and around us come the end of the season.

“But we’ll head into this week trying to rectify where we went wrong on Saturday. We’ve Carrick Rangers away next up, which is going to be difficult.

“It would have been easy to start the season with a couple of what you would call free hits against the bigger clubs but that wasn’t to be, so we’ll put in a good week of training and we’ll be ready for Carrick.”  

Elsewhere on Saturday, a 98th minute Jay Donnelly goal against Glenavon got Glentoran and new manager Warren Feeney off to a dramatic winning start at Mourneview Park, 1-0 the final score.

On Friday night, the league season opened at Ballycastle Road, where Coleraine opened their account with a 2-1 victory over Ballymena United.

Although new Ballymena captain Colin Coates opened the scoring, Matthew Shevlin goals either side of half-time ensured a home victory.