Belfast Telegraph

Kirk's improving PSNI approach a turning point in their season

By Keith Bailie

PSNI boss Jamesie Kirk is delighted with his side's recent renaissance.

Earlier in the season, the PSNI suffered a number of heavy defeats and most on-lookers believed they were set for a swift return to Championship Two, however the Newforge club are now unbeaten in six games. Saturday's impressive 1-0 win over Loughgall lifted the police side off the bottom of Championship One for the first time since September.

Manager Kirk said: “I wouldn't say we've turned the corner just yet, but we're coming up to the corner.

“We endured a very dark October and we suffered some heavy defeats but we stuck together, and we've improved as the season has gone along. I've managed in Championship One before with Ballyclare Comrades and I knew it was a tough division, but I now think it is tougher than ever before. There is an awful lot of quality in the division and it took us a while to adjust to that.

“We've now got a couple of wins under our belt, both in the league and in the cup, and we're hoping for a better second half of the season. I think our players deserve a lot of credit. I will be trying to sign a few players but it's not always easy to bring in the players you want.”

On Saturday, Ryan Berry's injury time winner took the PSNI off the bottom of the table. They're now just one point away from leapfrogging Loughgall and climbing out of the the relegation zone. They're also within three points of Armagh City, Ballyclare Comrades and Donegal Celtic.

This weekend, Kirk's men host Ronnie McFall's Portadown (3pm) in the fifth round of the Irish Cup. In years gone by, the tie would have been switched to Shamrock Park, but cup regulations now mean Championship clubs can host Premiership teams.

Kirk is delighted that Newforge can host such an important cup tie.

"It's a great draw for our club," he continued, "as it gives us a chance to host one of the top sides, but from a manager's perspective there is some trepidation because Portadown are an excellent side. They are full of quality and they have next to no weaknesses. However, it will be a great occasion for the club.

“It used to be that games like this were switched automatically to the senior club's ground, which I always thought was a real shame, so we're delighted that the game will be at Newforge.

“Personally speaking, I don't think any game should be switched unless it really has to be. There will be a big crowd at the game but it's nothing Newforge can't handle. I like the idea of spectators crowded round the pitch. It's old fashioned but it's part of the magic of the cup.

“I think Portadown fans will be pleased it's at Newforge as well. It gives them the chance to visit a ground they've never been to before.”

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