Newry City will embrace the challenges of the Irish Premiership: boss Darren Mullen

Darren Mullen feels his Newry side can surprise a few people in the Irish Premier
Shaun Casey

Danske Irish Premiership

NEWRY City’s objective is to consolidate their place as a Premiership club claims manager Darren Mullen as their season gets underway tomorrow afternoon against Carrick Rangers.

Mullen guided his side to a Championship title last season, winning 22 games, to earn promotion and insists that despite obvious disadvantages, his team can compete.

“We have to make sure we consolidate, and we become an established premiership team, the city deserves it,” explained Mullen. “The facilities are there, the fan-base is there, they’ve been superb over the last year, so we just need to make sure we go and consolidate and start building on that rather than being a yo-yo club if you like.

The financial muscle among the top teams makes it even more daunting for the likes of Newry City - but it's a challenge Mullen is keen to embrace.

“It’s very difficult because we’re in a completely different financial ballpark than the vast majority of other teams in there but that’s not to be used as an excuse. It’s up to me as a coach and a manager that I coach smarter, and we prepare ourselves as best we can and the one thing that I’ll make sure that the players know is that nobody can out-work us this year.

“It’s alright teams having greater finances but there’s no excuse for teams out-working you. We have a lot of positives and at this stage we’re all looking forward to what’s hopefully a good season.

“The amount of people you’re talking to, the first thing they say is ‘it’s going to be very tough for you’ and we know that but at the same time, I’ve said it on numerous occasions now, it’s a reward for us. Playing Premiership football is a reward for us winning the Championship,” added the Newry City boss.

“So, we have to go and enjoy it and embrace it. I know from previous experience how difficult it’s going to be, we have plenty of experience in the group and at the same time I think we have enough about us to go and surprise people because we have a lot of good young players there.

Newry reached the Irish Cup semi-finals last season which should give them plenty of confidence facing into their first Premiership encounter tomorrow.

“It’s a completely different squad than the last time we were up in the Premiership so there’s a lot for us to look forward to and hopefully we can add something to the Premiership this season.”

Newry have added to their squad from last year with new signings in the form of Donal Rocks (loan) and Andy Martin.

“It hasn’t been a big overhaul of players, the vast majority of the squad is still there from last year, which was one of the priorities, to make sure that did happen because there was obvious interest in some of the lads.

“It’s not a big squad and hopefully we can add to it now in the next week or two but I’m hopeful at the minute that the squad we have is more than capable to go and compete.

“There’s a huge buzz about the place, everybody is really looking forward to it. Last year was a really good year for us obviously winning the Championship so that whole buzz and excitement around the place has continued throughout the summer.”