Belfast Telegraph

Calling all the shots: Big guns are starting to fire

By Graham Luney

It seems the demise of Linfield and Cliftonville has been greatly exaggerated. The Blues were in danger of being dismissed as also-rans after their opening day shocker at Portadown, while others felt the Reds would struggle without Liam Boyce.

But the Belfast big guns, who hope to make a charge for the title, flexed their muscles at the weekend in an ominous sign for the rest of the Danske Bank Premiership.

Tommy Breslin's team were made to sweat by an Institute side that are winning admirers as quickly as Usain Bolt leaves rivals behind but, like great champions, they found a way to get the job done.

With all the talk of the recently departed Boyce and newly arrived Davy McDaid, Stephen Garrett was almost the forgotten man at Solitude – but not anymore.

I can recall Garrett scoring a crucial late winner at Dungannon Swifts last season – a vital victory that helped keep the north-Belfast side on course for back to back title glory.

On Saturday he was at it again, scoring an injury time winner to break Stute hearts.

There's nothing like a dramatic late strike to keep the momentum going.

McDaid also opened his account for the Reds and, even though it's very early days in the title sprint, the champions are into their stride.

Linfield and their player-boss Warren Feeney also deserve immense credit for bouncing back from their sloppy start to the season.

There must have been plenty of soul-searching after the 3-0 loss at Shamrock Park but the stunning comeback win at Glentoran followed by Saturday's 2-1 victory at Coleraine has transformed the atmosphere in the dressing room.

Feeney admitted afterwards that his side have not hit top gear yet but all the managers would agree with that sentiment.

Even Ballymena United boss Glenn Ferguson, who will not be getting carried away with his side's table topping position.

The moment you think this game is easy it will bite you in the posterior.

Crusaders, Glentoran and Dungannon Swifts are up and running with their first wins, with Glenavon brought down to earth by the Swifts at Mourneview Park.

Evidence again that you cannot underestimate any opponents in this league.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph