Football/Soccer

Playing for Cliftonville was an offer I couldn't refuse: Kris Lowe

Kris Lowe (right) has joined Cliftonville from Dungannon Swifts

Danske Bank Irish Premiership: Cliftonville v Glenavon (Solitude, 3pm)

ONE glance at his Twitter profile and you can build a fairly accurate picture of Cliftonville’s surprise new signing Kris Lowe from Dungannon Swifts.

Big Liverpool supporter. Enjoys Liam Gallagher’s banter and a big Bruce Springsteen fan.

As soon as he committed pen to paper, his profile was tweaked to read: ‘Play footie for Cliftonville FC – Working on a Dream.’

The ‘Working on a Dream’ bit is the Springsteen influence. It’s the title track of the American rocker’s 2009 studio album.

For the 25-year-old Omagh man, it sums up where he is in his football career.

“It was just a song I came across,” said Lowe, who was brought through the ranks at Stangmore Park since he was 14.

“I’m a big admirer of Springsteen and I know a lot of his songs but ‘Working on a Dream’, I just thought it’s one of those titles I admire and it’s relative to what I want to do with my life. And football pretty much is my life. Football is the only thing I’m interested in.

“I just want to keep working hard and keep my head down.”

Lowe was fully expecting to be preparing for a crack at Linfield at Windsor Park this afternoon – a game that was subsequently called off due to a Covid case in the Swifts squad – and trying to mine some points to get them out of the bottom two.

Instead, he’s higher up the table in a blink of an eye, hoping to help the sixth-placed Reds chase down Ballymena United and Coleraine.

Once Cliftonville boss Paddy McLaughlin made contact with the Co Tyrone club about the availability of the versatile Lowe, it was an easy sell.

“It was a surprise,” Lowe said, who made 228 appearances for Dungannon.

“Kris Lindsay rang me on Sunday and he just said there was interest from Cliftonville. So it went pretty quickly from there. I spoke to Paddy McLaughlin and Brian Donaghy [Cliftonville assistant] and it all sounded good.

“Dungannon will always be a club close to my heart and a club I’ll always admire. But I want to be competing at the top of the table and that was my main reason.

“For so long we’ve been in relegation battles and dog-fights.

“I was just curious to find out if I could compete at the top end of the table, just to see where I’m at. I’m 25 now and I’m approaching my prime years.

“Dungannon are in a dog-fight and I do feel I’m leaving them behind, so to speak, but it was just too good an opportunity to turn down.”

Boss McLaughlin is really beginning to put his own stamp on this Cliftonville side who were boosted by their thrilling 4-3 win over Linfield in mid-week.

New signing Rory Hale has added a bit of much-needed spark to the Reds attack since moving from Crusaders, Aaron McCarey has taken over goalkeeping duties from Richard Brush and Eoin Taggart has added more depth to the set-up.

Lowe can play in any number of positions but his preferred option is central midfield.

“My favourite position is centre of midfield but when I’m asked to play elsewhere I do my best,” said Lowe, who was given his first team chance at the Swifts by Darren Murphy.

“I’ve played right back, centre half, wide right at times. I can play different positions but if there is one position I’d want to master it is central midfield.”

It’s an undoubted wrench to leave the club that moulded him and Lowe paid tribute to the likes of Darren Murphy, Rodney McAree, Dixie Robinson and current first team boss Kris Lindsay.

A keen GAA player with St Enda’s Omagh until he was 14, Lowe decided to pursue a career in football, and is at a club now where the dream has grown legs.

“It’s a longer journey – an hour and 15 minutes – but that’ll not be a problem. I can’t wait to get started now with Cliftonville,” Lowe added.

Danske Bank Irish Premiership

 

Cliftonville v Glenavon

THE Reds will look at their mid-table position and feel they should be a few places higher. Nevertheless, they returned to winning ways with a fantastic display against champions Linfield on Tuesday night. Conor McMenamin, a target for some top clubs this month, remains a key player for the north Belfast club while a few new faces in the transfer window always adds a bit of spice to training and games.

Glenavon’s problem is they’re not scoring enough goals and continue to be erratic. A tough run ahead for Gary Hamilton’s men too with Larne, Ballymena and Coleraine to follow.

Odds: H:19/20 D:5/2 A:23/10

Prediction: Cliftonville

Coleraine v Crusaders

SINCE losing to Dungannon Swifts in early December, Coleraine have embarked on a tremendous run of form, winning their last five outings and brought Larne back down to earth with a gutsy win at Inver Park in mid-week. Three draws on the bounce is taking the steam out of second-placed Crusaders' title challenge, and it could be four by the end of the day up in Ballycastle Road.

Odds: H:6/4 D:13/5 A:13/10

Prediction: Draw

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts (PP due to Covid policy)

Portadown v Warrenpoint

MOURNING the passing of their chairman Ronnie Stinson in mid-week, the Ports will want to create a bit more daylight between themselves and second from bottom Dungannon Swifts who are inactive today due to a Covid case at the club.

Matthew Tipton’s men have conceded double the amount that they have scored in their return to the top flight, while it’s an equally important game for fourth-from-bottom ‘Point who will want to put a few things right after last week’s 6-0 drubbing at Windsor.

Odds: H:29/20 D:13/5 A:7/5

Prediction: Draw

Carrick Rangers v Ballymena United

CARRICK’S one and only win out of their first 10 games came back in November – a 4-1 hammering of Portadown. Niall Currie’s men may be bottom of the table but they have three games in hand over nearest rivals Dungannon Swifts but that precious commodity of goals is the big worry. The Braidmen haven’t lost since November 10 and have plenty of firepower. A big ask for the home side to take anything from this clash.

Odds: H:13/5 D:11/4 A:4/5

Prediction: Ballymena

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Football/Soccer